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Catching Up With Current Scholars

At Libertana, we believe profoundly in the transformative power of education. As part of our dedication to support our employees, their families, and our community whenever we can, we have launched our third annual Libertana Scholarship application period. While we anxiously await to review applications from our next cohort of scholars, we caught up with some of our 2021-2022 scholars.


Scholar: Kilah Vanevenhoven

School: University of Houston - Houston, TX

Year in School: Junior

Major: Biology

Minor: Health

How does your relative at Libertana inspire you?

My relative at Libertana is inspiring because of their altruism, empathy, and drive. Without hesitation, they constantly put others before themselves all while managing their personal commitments. Getting older has come with more responsibilities and difficult decisions; I always know I can come to them for advice and support when I feel lost navigating my way through life. Lastly, they persist through adversity and continue to demonstrate that if you truly yearn for something you can achieve it.

What was your favorite academic experience this year?

This semester I am taking Genetics Laboratory. In my lab, I have been working on a reverse genetics project as well as a forward genetics project. For our reverse genetics project, I was able to choose an unknown gene from Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant model organism, and have used multiple bioinformatics tools to try and uncover its function. For our forward genetics project, we were given fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) with a known mutation and must determine: whether it is dominant or recessive; if it is autosomal or sex-linked; what gene is responsible for the phenotype; and finally its chromosomal location. This class has applied all the concepts I have learned so far in my undergraduate experience. It put into perspective how modern-day science experiments are conducted.

What specific goals do you have for post-grad, and what motivates you to pursue those goals?

Following graduation and a subsequent gap year, I plan to attend medical school and become a physician. I have always been fascinated by the human body due to its complexity and intrinsic processes that are often taken for granted. Living with a chronic illness, I have experienced the delicate relationship between the body’s capability of working like a well-oiled machine and the utter chaos that can ensue when it fails. However, these experiences have allowed me to understand the gift of life and motivate me to push forward. I know the experiences I have faced add a different dimension and will assist me in future endeavors. I look forward to the day where I can “preserve the finest traditions of my calling and…experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I will be entering my final year of medical school and see myself narrowing down the specialty I wish to pursue. I hope to be involved in a research project and preparing to publish research findings in a scholarly journal. Additionally, I see myself volunteering at a local non-profit health clinic or food bank on the weekends to give back to the community I will be residing in. During my free time, I see myself continuing to read novels and spend time with my family.


Scholar: Tina Archega

School: Mount Holyoke College

Year in School: Junior, Class of 2023

Major: Double Major in Environmental Studies and Politics

How does your relative at Libertana inspire you?

My relative at Libertana inspires me to be driven and always work hard. I am constantly reminded of all the hard work my family does, and it pushes me to work harder to honor them.

What was your favorite academic experience this year?

Last semester, I participated in the Washington Semester Program, which allowed me to take classes at American University and intern at the US Department of Commerce for the Office of White House Liaison. I was able to learn the inter-workings of an executive department while being surrounded by political appointees. It was inspiring to work beside the appointees who were committed to transforming policies into working solutions. My favorite moment of the internship was getting to meet Secretary Raimondo and Deputy Secretary Don Graves. It was an incredibly enriching experience for me that affirmed I want a career in public service.

What specific goals do you have for post-grad, and what motivates you to pursue those goals?

Before heading to law school, I would like to take a year to work as a paralegal or complete legislative work. It will be beneficial for me to gain this experience before applying to law school. I want to pursue a career in law because I want to advocate for people who face injustices and do not have a voice.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In 5 years, I hope to have graduated from law school. After law school, I would like to work for a law firm on the east coast.


Scholar: Gerson Berganza

School: CSU Fullerton

Year in School: Graduate Student

Major: Mathematics

How does your relative at Libertana inspire you?

I am grateful that my mother has worked hard for many years to provide a good life for me. She inspires me to do the same for my family someday.

What was your favorite academic experience this year?

This year was my first in my graduate program at and I have really enjoyed participating in my classes. It feels like a big accomplishment to be doing well so far.

What specific goals do you have post-grad, and what motivates you to pursue those goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

After I complete graduate school, I would like to become a professor and teach mathematics at the collegiate level. While I love mathematics, I find even more joy in helping people understand it.

As always, we are inspired by our Scholars courage, abilities, and ambitions. We are honored to help support these inspiring students as they continue to their academic pursuits. With the application open for the 2022-2023 Libertana Scholarship class, we hope you’ll spread the word about this opportunity, so that we may continue to uplift our families through the power of education.