The Kenneth C. Frazier PhRMA Scholars Program is going strong in 2022—and we are expanding our horizons to a new city. This summer, we are thrilled to announce four new recipients: Arianna Camacho-Mendez and Axel Orellana from Washington, D.C.; and Michelle Tanujaya and Jackie Zhao, our first students from Philadelphia. Congratulations to these amazing scholars!
In partnership with Minds Matter DC, the Kenneth C. Frazier PhRMA Scholars Program provides needs-based scholarships to incoming college students to help fill the gap between the aid they receive and the total cost of school. The scholarship provides $20,000 to each student recipient over their 4-year college career.
“Minds Matter DC is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to connect driven and determined students from low-income families with the people, preparation, and possibilities to succeed in college, create their future and change the world,” said David Ford, chair of the Minds Matter DC Board of Directors. “We are so grateful for PhRMA’s partnership and its initiative to bring greater opportunity to our students.”
While coming from two different cities and heading to four different colleges, this year’s winners do happen to have a couple things in common: This year’s recipients are all the children of immigrants and the first in their family to go to college. Additionally, Axel and Arianna are the first generation in their families to graduate from high school.
“Congratulations to these exceptional scholars for persevering against difficult odds, and thank you to PhRMA for helping them become the first in their families to attend college,” said Ken Frazier, executive chairman and former CEO, Merck. “Having been raised in the inner city of Philadelphia and experiencing firsthand the life-changing impact a rigorous education can have, I’m especially energized that two talented students from my hometown and two from Washington, D.C. will now have the opportunity to further their education.”
“As part of our continuing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Kenneth C. Frazier PhRMA Scholars Program focuses on championing students from under-resourced backgrounds,” said Dr. Steven Thomas, PhRMA’s Senior Director, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Talent Programs and Minds Matter DC Board Member. “We are once again honored to be part of these students’ exceptional academic journey. For us, it’s about access and opportunity, affording all the ability to thrive.”
Jackie Zhao (he/him) plans to study Biology at Drexel University, with the ultimate goal of becoming a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician. A son of immigrants from China, Jackie will be the first generation in his family to attend college. He believes that taking a holistic view of medicine leads to creative solutions that improve existing medical systems and create new advancements.
Michelle Tanujaya (she/her) will attend Temple University, where she plans to study Biology with the goal of becoming either a physician or a research scientist. Michelle is the daughter of immigrants from Indonesia. She is passionate about the practice of ethics in medicine, and she hopes to lead conversations about balancing the advancement of life-saving treatments with the ethical consequences of medical research.
Axel Orellana (he/him) will attend the University of the District of Columbia and plans to study computer engineering, with the goal of pursuing a career at the intersection of inclusive community development and tech. Axel was born in El Salvador and emigrated to the US at a young age. As a computer engineer, he hopes to use innovation to create the next groundbreaking digital device that shapes how our society thinks and communicates.
Arianna Comacho-Mendez (she/her), the daughter of two immigrants from Mexico, plans to study psychology at Trinity Washington University. Arianna’s goal is to become a psychologist who directly engages with her community. She is committed to finding solutions for some of the most pressing issues facing underfunded neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., including eliminating food deserts and addressing job insecurity.
Learn more about PhRMA’s work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion at PhRMA.org/Equity.