[Jan. 5, 2024: JD Shavit, The Brighter Side of News]
15-year-old Alena McQuarter graduated from Arizona State University (ASU) with a fervent passion for STEM. (CREDIT: Alena McQuarter)
Alena McQuarter embarked on her academic journey at Arizona State University (ASU) with a fervent passion for STEM. This year, at 15-years-old, not only did she earn her bachelor's degree in biological sciences with a focus on biomedical sciences and a minor in global health but she also developed something more profound and valuable: a newfound voice and purpose.
While at ASU, McQuarter achieved remarkable feats. She successfully defended her thesis and became an active member of the Black Student Union. Moreover, she founded the Brown STEM Girl Foundation, an organization aimed at empowering girls of color interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
However, ASU did more than just educate McQuarter academically. It helped her discover a broader calling. She realized she was not just a STEM enthusiast but also a philanthropist and activist dedicated to humanity. She aspired to uplift girls and women of color and provide them with a platform.
McQuarter primarily completed her coursework online from her home in Texas but spent her final semester at ASU.
During her time at ASU, she developed a passion for global health and advocating for those without access to healthcare. She also participated in the Student Outbreak Response Team, assisting in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona.
Another eye-opening experience came from speaking to immigrants seeking to come to the U.S., which expanded her understanding of global issues and strengthened her resolve to use her platform for change.
Being a teenager in college presented unique challenges for McQuarter. People often underestimated her due to her age, but her academic accomplishments spoke for themselves. She consistently earned a place on the dean's list and received a prestigious dean's medal from the School of Life Sciences.
15-year-old Alena McQuarter and her mother Daphne McQuarter following the ASU Barrett Honors College convocation. (CREDIT: Alena McQuarter)
Her ASU experience left an indelible mark on her, and she expressed excitement about making a bigger impact in the world. McQuarter plans to pursue a Ph.D. in virology and infectious disease after earning her master's from ASU. She has applied to various prestigious institutions for her doctoral studies.
Her commitment extends beyond academics; she aims to expand her Brown STEM Girl Foundation globally, with a particular focus on mental health support for college students. McQuarter is eager to get back into the lab, contribute to vaccine development, and travel the world to help people.
15-year-old Alena McQuarter on stage during the ASU Barrett Honors College convocation. (CREDIT: Alena McQuarter)
Despite her academic achievements, McQuarter emphasizes that she's still a teenager who enjoys time with friends, singing, sports, and embracing her competitive nature. She has diverse interests beyond STEM, including an animated series and other projects.
McQuarter's story serves as an inspiration for anyone pursuing their dreams, as she encourages others to persevere and stay focused on their goals.
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