Andrea d’Aquino did not have a home computer while growing up in Bellingham, Wash. Rather than let that stop her, she spent hours in the school library researching how to fund her education.
“I come from a very big family, and no one had gone on to higher education,” says d’Aquino. “No one could quite tell me how you pay for college or get into college.” Fortunately, she won a scholarship from the Gates Millennium Scholars Program and undertook her undergraduate studies at Western Washington University.
Alicia McGeachy was also the first member of her family to receive a degree, which she achieved though the same determination and resourcefulness. McGeachy went to a large school in Brooklyn, N.Y. “The teachers were supportive, but they didn’t have a lot of time,” she explains. Her father encouraged her to help herself. She did her research and, with that in hand, went on to secure scholarships for Spelman College in Atlanta.
McGeachy and d’Aquino faced the kind of hurdles many college students never have to contemplate, but they overcame them, and now both are graduate students at Northwestern University. McGeachy is researching how nanotechnology can mitigate the health and environmental effects from batteries, such as those from cars and laptops. D’Aquino intends to apply her knowledge in organometallic supramolecular chemistry to help answer questions about energy, the environment, and health.