Laura Odeh ‘25 and Saher Iqbal ‘26 Receive First-ever ISM Scholarship, the Taiylor R. Nunn STEM Scholarship
The Taiylor R. Nunn Scholarship, established in 2022, is offered to two students in grades 9-12 interested in STEM and is the first-ever scholarship offered at ISM. The Nunn family established this scholarship “to support ISM’s commitment to gender and race diversity and to honor their daughter Taiylor Nunn, who is an ISM alumna.”
Many here at ISM still remember Taiylor! Before moving to Connecticut for high school followed by M.I.T. for college, Taiylor gained her middle school education here at ISM. After studying biology at M.I.T., she went on to get a Master’s in Public Health with concentrations in epidemiology and biostatistics. Taiylor’s education is ongoing: while she currently performs epidemiological research, her plan is to begin medical school in 2023.
Taiylor herself embodies a true passion for science, as do recipients of the scholarship named after her. As part of the application process, Laura and Saher had to submit a 500-word essay on their passion for STEM, and were encouraged to not only include current STEM experiences, but also future goals they have for themselves in the field.
Laura, who is interested in studying biochemistry, health sciences, and biomedical engineering, wrote in her scholarship essay that it seemed like women’s health had often been an afterthought in medical research. She hopes to foreground women’s health issues in her studies and career.
“I plan on helping my patients and the other women around me learn about their bodies,” she says, describing her planned career in women’s health sciences. “If I end up not becoming a doctor, I’ll most likely research better birth control options and other things that will benefit women medically.”
Saher, on the other hand, plans to study ophthalmology in the future.
“I have taken an interest in biology and organic chemistry, but there is still a lot of room for growth and change before I make any commitments. However, I have considered a career within the realm of medicine, specifically ophthalmology,” she says.
Saher’s essay explored how “passion fuels innovation.” As she says, “Passion has always been one of my biggest motivators, along with curiosity and making my family proud. Without passion, creativity is greatly limited, hence lowering the chances of success.”
She believes that the main value of the scholarship is the opportunities it makes available: “without a place to use knowledge acquired in school,” she points out, “the information is void. Students need a way to reflect their ambition, determination, and curiosity outside of regular exams or quizzes.”
Laura also noted how scholarship competitions themselves help students understand and sometimes even deepen their passion for STEM: “Everyone who applies wants to get chosen, so they want to do their best on their essay. This can cause them to be more motivated and help them further realize their passion for STEM.”
The Taiylor R. Nunn Scholarship is a $10,000 award that will be split between two winners each school year.
“It is exciting to see Friends of ISM take in donations that are directed toward student scholarships,” says Prima Sisinni, alumni coordinator and event specialist of ISM. “We know that the generosity and gifts made by donors, like the Nunn Family, will have a lasting effect on our students.”
Prima adds, “Education is one piece of life that no person can take away from you. Expanding opportunities for students to achieve a top-quality education through the form of a scholarship is something I am really excited to see as our scholarship programming grows."
Although this year’s scholarship winners have been selected, the 2023-24 application process is already right around the corner. Eligible students will begin applications in early March with deadlines at the end of that month.
As ISM’s scholarship programming takes off, community members and parents have a unique opportunity to help impact our students by creating their own scholarships or by donating to an existing ISM scholarship. You can learn more about making your mark on ISM on our official Taiylor R. Nunn STEM Scholarship page or by inquiring with firstname.lastname@example.org.