Phi Theta Kappa member Carolyn Lanzkron has become the 19th Goldwater Scholar from Massachusetts Bay Community College, continuing a trend of excellence among the Alpha Kappa Lambda chapter’s members and science majors.
The 48-year-old mother of five from Brookline, Massachusetts, was the only winner of a 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in Science and Engineering from a community college. MassBay Community College has now produced 19 Goldwater Scholars – all of them also Phi Theta Kappa members. No other community college in America has produced more than three scholars.
Lanzkron’s former classmate, Corporal Kenneth Moreno (USMC), won a Goldwater Scholarship in 2012 and was also the only winner representing a community college.
“Choosing a school is not about pedigree,” Lanzkron said. “It’s about the educational opportunity offered, and an intellectually challenging environment.”
The scholarship is the nation’s highest and most competitive undergraduate STEM scholarship and was established by Congress in 1986. Just 271 students nationwide were honored with the scholarship this year.
“Intellectually, Carolyn is a genius,” said Dr. Bruce A. Jackson, a professor of biotechnology and forensic DNA science and chairman of the Biotechnology Department at MassBay. “Because of her dazzling intellect and great career potential as a scientist, I have no doubt she will ultimately edify scientific research and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over many years of what will surely be a stellar career.”
Lanzkron had no plans to attend a community college. She stopped by the Advising Office looking into programs for her son and ended up enrolling in a chemistry class after the Forensic DNA Science program caught her attention. She will graduate in May 2013 as one of MassBay’s most accomplished scholars. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the All-Massachusetts Community College Academic Team and was named a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Fellow in 2012.
She was appointed Chief Mentor for the Forensic DNA Science Program and forensic Case Manager, two of the highest honors the Biotechnology Faculty can bestow on a student. Never in the department’s 20-year history has a single student held both positions.
The Biotechnology Program at MassBay is modeled after Ph.D. programs, where students work on a large-scale project over the course of their tenure in the program.
“The entire MassBay community is extremely proud of the accomplishment of Carolyn Lanzkron in earning this prestigious scholarship,” said MassBay President Dr. John O’Donnell. “That we can proudly recognize our 19th Goldwater Award winner also reinforces the national prominence of the biotechnology program that Dr. Bruce Jackson and his colleagues have built here.”
As a member of the Forensic DNA Science Program, Lanzkron works on real cases, often helping Dr. Jackson in his consultations with The Innocence Project, a national nonprofit dedicating to exonerating those who have been falsely imprisoned through DNA evidence.
“The outcomes are unknown, and the work we are given is meaningful,” Lanzkron said. “From our first moments in the program, our lab work isn’t busywork; it might actually matter. Who would have thought all this was available for undergraduates anywhere, much less at a community college?”
Lanzkron will receive an Associate Degree in DNA Forensic Science in May 2013. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Entomology, conduct research in entomological genetics and teach at the university level.