Natalia Fuentes, a senior at Waterville Senior High School in Waterville, has been awarded the inaugural 2018 JAX Maine College Scholarship, according to a news release from Jackson Laboratory.

The $10,000 award is given annually to a graduating Maine high school senior who demonstrates high academic achievement, the motivation for a career in biomedical science, and significant financial need. This new program also is being offered to graduating high school seniors who reside in Connecticut and in Sacramento County, California.

In addition to the financial award, recipients will be placed in a coveted internship at JAX the summer after their sophomore year.

“We are so pleased to recognize Natalia for her unwavering persistence and hard work, and her desire to make a change in the world of biomedicine,” said JAX STEM and Undergraduate Education Program Director Michael McKernan, according to the news release from JAX. “When we designed this scholarship program, we wanted to ensure that we provided opportunities in our local communities to further future scientists’ education both in and outside the classroom and foster a continued love of bioscience. Natalia has the drive, the passion, and the dedication to do great things, and we are honored to recognize her.”

Fuentes, a first-generation American, plans to attend Harvard University. At Waterville High School, she demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, and serves as president of the school’s National Honor Society and treasurer of the Tri-M Musical Honor Society. Fuentes also received the Kennebec Valley All-Academic Award and the George Eastman Leadership Award, according to the release.

Fuentes aspires to pursue a doctorate with a focus on infectious disease to aid people in impoverished communities and provide effective and safe treatments to those in third world countries. As the scholarship’s first recipient in Maine, she is driven by the desire “to help those who cannot help themselves.”

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