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Adriana Lanza

2985

Bold Points

2x

Nominee

3x

Finalist

Bio

I am a rising fourth year at Northeastern University pursuing a B.S. in mechanical engineering and a minor in math. I plan to attend graduate school to attain an M.S. and a Ph.D. in engineering. I work in a coastal engineering lab part-time, creating an algorithm to detect shoreline change from satellite imagery. Outside of work, I am involved in numerous clubs across campus, such as the aquatic robotics team, knitting club, and the sustainability club. My career goal is to design underwater robots to remove plastic from marine ecosystems. Every year, at least 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, making up 80% of all marine debris. These plastics are then broken down into small particles, called microplastics, by solar radiation, wind, currents, and other natural factors. The most visible impacts of plastic are seen through the hundreds of marine species that ingest, suffocate, and become entangled in marine plastics. These species, such as seabirds, whales, fish, and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey. After their stomachs are filled with plastics, most then die of starvation. My dream is to design a robotic solution to remove plastics from the marine environment without disrupting organisms or habitats. I’m a great candidate for this scholarship because I am a curious and creative thinker. I have always taken my education seriously, and I am fully committed to my chosen career despite the challenges. I have been dedicated to achieving my dreams by persisting in my studies and beginning to do marine research at a part-time university job.

Education

Northeastern University

Bachelor's degree program
2020 - 2025
  • Majors:
    • Mechanical Engineering
  • Minors:
    • Mathematics

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Doctoral degree program (PhD, MD, JD, etc.)

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Ocean Engineering
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Mechanical or Industrial Engineering

    • Dream career goals:

      Engineer

    • MSP Intern

      NASA JPL
      2023 – Present1 year
    • Technical Assistant

      Lincoln Labs
      2022 – 2022
    • Undergraduate Researcher

      NHERI
      2021 – 2021

    Research

    • Mechanical Engineering

      Northeastern University — Research Assistant
      2021 – 2022
    • Civil Engineering

      Northeastern University — Undergraduate Researcher
      2022 – 2022
    • Civil Engineering

      Northeastern University — Research Assistant
      2021 – 2022

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      United Way of Bucks County — Assistant
      2015 – 2020
    • Volunteering

      Habitat for Humanity — Retail Assistant
      2019 – 2019

    Future Interests

    Advocacy

    Volunteering

    Electronic Shark Scholarship
    I started college during the Covid-19 Pandemic, which meant that it was really hard to make any friends because I was cooped up in my dorm 24/7. In my first-year engineering class, we were assigned groups for our final group project and tasked to create a "solution" to one of the many problems the pandemic had created. My groupmates and I were all very inventive, and we decided to create a robot that would "cure" zoom burnout by dancing, playing music, etc. We thought our professor would shoot us down, but to our surprise, he was excited to hear about our project. It turns out, the rest of the class was all focusing on the sanitization aspect of Covid, and we were the one group to think outside of the box according to our professor. Now again, this entire project took place during 2020, meaning that everything was closed. How were we supposed to meet up to do our work and create a robot when all we had was zoom? Simple. Our campus has underground tunnels that connect some of the original buildings, one of which is always open. What we would do is basically "break" into the basement of the library after classes were over and work in the basement as long as we could. I remember the night before our project was due, our robot was refusing to work. It's maybe 11 pm in the basement and the three of us are frustrated. One of my teammates decided to leave and said she would wake up early to try and work on it if we couldn't make it work that evening. 11 pm turns into 2 am and our robot, nicknamed Junkyard, refused to work. My other groupmate and I were playing classical music on blast and testing code for Junkyard over and over and over again. I guess we were so tired that it became funny, and every failure just made us laugh harder and harder. We could barely contain our laughter and eventually, we gave up. We knew our project was good even if it didn't work perfectly, and we were so tired. The next day we walked into class prepared to show a failed project. My other groupmate had woken up early to work on Junkyard, but he still wasn't working. When it was our time to show off our project, we shuffled up to the front of the room, dreading showing off Junkyard. However, to our great surprise, when we turned on Junkyard, he worked. Not only did he work, but he also worked perfectly. He danced around on the table, playing Here Comes the Sun and September. His lights lit up and he threw candy around him. My group just laughed because of course Junkyard would work at the last possible minute. Even though I have been in college for an additional 2 years after this class ended, my memory of this specific night is my favorite. That moment was the first time I had a real connection with a classmate in college, and my groupmates and I are still close friends to this day. That night was a brief moment compared to the hundreds of other nights I have stayed up late studying or working, and, yet, it is my favorite. There remains something unique about that night, an indescribable atmosphere that separates it from anything I have experienced since.
    Elevate Women in Technology Scholarship
    Throughout human history, women have been considered inferior to men and have been excluded from medical knowledge production, creating a healthcare system centered around men. In the past, doctors would fill knowledge gaps with hysteria narratives, sending women to insane asylums for horrific treatments. Doctors, rather than acknowledge their knowledge limitations, expected women to be able to “take control” of their disease, making those who rebelled against treatment seen as irrational. Even in some of our first sketches of skeletons, male anatomy artists intentionally made womens’ hips wider and their craniums smaller as a way of saying that women are made to give birth and can’t be offered an education. I experienced this problem in the health system myself. In February 2020, I became ill with the flu and could not function for weeks. For the following three months, I felt dizzy whenever I stood, which my doctor dismissed as dehydration. A few months later, I started passing out from dizziness. My doctor reiterated that I was dehydrated. Realizing that I wasn’t getting anywhere, I switched doctors. After explaining my symptoms, my new doctor ran a simple test and was able to conclude that I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, known as POTS. POTS is not a new illness, but it isn’t often taught in medical schools and few doctors have even heard of it. One of the main reasons is that it largely affects women. One in 100 women has POTS, yet there is barely any research into the disease. Only two medications are offered, which don’t work for most patients, while all other treatments are at-home remedies. Thankfully, I learned how to modify my lifestyle to make my condition easier to bear, but I know many others who cannot function in their lives. Technology has advanced enough for us to detect these “new” illnesses in women, and for that, I am grateful. If I had been born 50 years ago, I might have never found any relief for my symptoms. But advancing technology is not enough; we need people’s minds to advance. We need researchers to take on the task of discovering all there is to find with these new diagnoses, and we need doctors willing to listen to their female patients. We can make the world a better place for women everywhere by thoroughly researching their bodies with our current technologies to fully understand the female body.
    Youssef University’s College Life Scholarship
    Looking back on my first years of college has made me realize how hard I have worked to be on the same level as my peers financially. Ever since my first year of college, I have worked a minimum of ten hours a week to fund my schooling while taking classes, while most of my peers don’t work at all or work fewer than ten hours a week. While my grades haven’t necessarily suffered from working while taking classes, my mental health has been impacted heavily. I have never relaxed because my mind always looks toward the next task on my to-do list. It’s never-ending, and I am exhausted. If I were given $1,000 right now, I would use it to pay for the rest of my summer housing. Currently, I am working full-time while also tutoring students and working as an assistant for a local business. All of this work is to pay for the rest of my summer and fall housing. My ultimate goal is to be a mechanical engineer, but I don’t want to work myself to the bone to get there. With $1,000, I would be able to stop tutoring students and use that time for my hobbies such as crochet, knitting, and painting. I know I will achieve my goal as it is what I was born to do, but this money would make my path to success less rocky.
    Bold Great Minds Scholarship
    In the entirety of human history, there have been numerous scholars, leaders, and artists that have been adored throughout the ages. Examples include Isaac Newton, Princess Diana, and Picasso. That said, when asked who I admire from history, I usually answer Marie Curie. Marie Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted research on radioactivity, discovered two elements (radium and polonium), and is the only person in history to have won two Nobel prizes. Her research in radioactivity led to numerous medical discoveries modernly called radiopharmaceuticals, which can detect diseases in humans as well as shrink and kill cancerous cells or tumors. The reason why I admire Marie Curie is because her discovery saved my mom’s life. In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Multiple doctors told her that her cancer was untreatable and that she needed to organize her affairs. That was until she found a doctor who decided to give treatment a shot. My mom endured months of treatment and surgeries until at last, she had one step left: radiation. The purpose of radiation when treating cancer is to damage a cancer cell’s DNA so that the cell stops dividing and dies. Without the discovery of radiation and the subsequent discoveries that led to the radiation treatment my mom underwent, my mom might not be here with me today. Marie Curie's life work was dedicated to studying radioactivity, and her research has saved not only my mom, but thousands of others across the globe. It’s for this reason that Marie Curie is someone I find admirable from history.
    Durham-Dodd Dreams Scholarship
    Growing up, I didn’t have any relatives who lived close by, so it was always just my mom and me. When I was younger, I would follow my mom around the house as her helper. She would allow me to “help” her cook (really, I would only sample ingredients and taste test), and I would watch her clean and hide from the scary vacuum. She passed down our Puerto Rican culture through food, music, and traditions and helped me find myself within our culture. My mom made it a point to help me with my education, as no one in our family had graduated college before. In elementary school, my mom would sit down, help me with my homework, and teach me how to do the math. When I started middle school, she couldn’t teach me anymore, but she helped me study by providing words of encouragement and snacks. In high school, my mom allowed me to stick hundreds of index cards around the house to help me learn French. On days when my anxiety was high, she would calm me down and motivate me to try my best. My mom showed me my culture and allowed me to find myself within it. She made it a point to be there for me in school and motivated me to obtain a college degree. My mom showed me that I am strong and can do anything I set my mind to. I am proud to call her my mom.
    Bold Music Scholarship
    Covid hit while I was in my senior year of high school, meaning that I took my AP tests online. This period was the first time I had ever taken a test online, so I was nervous. For that year's AP exams, you had to log in a half hour before the exam and sit there while a timer counted down the minutes until you could start. It was nerve-wracking. I sat in complete silence for the first exam I took and anxiously watched the seconds tick away. After that dreadful experience, I decided to create a thirty-minute playlist to listen to before the exam. The first song that popped into my head was Break My Stride by Matthew Wilder. Break My Stride has upbeat music and gives me pure serotonin when I listen to it. Whenever I hear it, I start tapping my foot, swaying my body to the music, or outright dancing. This song is easily one of my favorite ones and the one that inspires me the most. Why does this song inspire me? The answer is in the chorus, which repeats: "Ain't nothin' gonna to break my stride, Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving." I feel that there isn't much more inspiring than singing that nothing and no one will stop you from achieving your goals. This song melts all of my anxieties away and allows me to focus on what matters in the moment, inspiring me to continue despite the challenges, and telling me that there is nothing I can't do if I set my mind to it.
    Bold Make Your Mark Scholarship
    When I was growing up, I was the kid who would ask questions to clarify the things I observed in the world around me. I was lucky to grow up in an environment where my curiosity was ignited into the love of learning I possess today. The intellectual path I followed allowed me to begin to understand the complexity of Earth’s environment and the catastrophe our world is heading to if everyone stays complacent in our current situation. I aspire to have a positive impact on the world by reducing the damage humans have on the environment. The impact I wish to have on the world is reducing the amount of trash in our waterways, specifically in the Pacific Garbage Patch. Current studies estimate that the Pacific Garbage patch holds 79,000 tons of plastic alone, which is polluting the largest ecosystem on Earth. Solutions being implemented to remove the garbage from the ocean, such as those from The Ocean Cleanup Project, have been performed poorly. Many options involve blindly removing trash from the ocean without understanding the impact that the garbage has had on the environment. In the Pacific Garbage Patch, an entirely new ecosystem has been created that allows for fish and animals near the patch to coexist with it. Scooping the trash out of the ocean without acknowledging this new ecosystem destroys living creatures' habitats and creates an entirely new problem. My hope is that by studying robotics and oceanic systems in college, I will be able to introduce a robotic solution that can remove the trash without disturbing the new ecosystem that has been created. I have already started on this journey by leading my underwater robotics team and joining a coastal engineering research lab. I will continue down this path until our oceans are restored.
    Scholarship for Student Perseverance
    The past two years have been a whirlwind of therapists, hospital visits, and bouts of depression and anxiety. When I entered college, a time of my life that was supposed to be my "golden" years, I struggled to take care of myself. At first, this presented itself in weight loss, where I lost 50 pounds. However, things took a downward turn in my second year when my psychiatrist and therapist left the practice. Swiftly after, my mental health began rapidly declining. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't focus, and could barely get out of bed. My mom and friends began noticing. My mom wanted to come to visit me, but I threatened not to let her into my apartment if she did. My friends asked to see me, but I told them I was tired. I began to self-isolate. My grades dropped, and my mental health was at an all-time low. I finished the semester just barely passing finals and questioning if I should even continue in school. At this point, my mom, my partner, and my friends were concerned. I told my mom I did not want to come home for Christmas because I was too tired. She could have yelled at me, threatened me, or come up to see me and refused to leave, but she accepted this and allowed me to make this decision. On top of that, my partner was going to visit me for Christmas. But at the last minute, I rejected them, and they accepted my decision. So for Christmas, I was utterly alone. During the holidays, being alone made me realize that I did not want to be isolated for my entire life. It made me realize that I couldn't stand myself and needed help. After this realization, I called my mom, and she immediately drove up to see me. I also called my partner, and they booked the next flight. They both stayed with me over winter break, helping me find a therapist and psychiatrist. They made me food, watched movies with me, and got me out of the house a few times. I wasn't fixed by the time classes rolled around, but I was better. Once classes began, I started therapy. At first, I would join a teletherapy call and talk about anything and everything that came to mind. Then, my therapist began working with me to get me out of my thinking traps and improve my state of mind. At the same time, my psychiatrist gave me medications to help lift my mood. My therapist, psychiatrist, mom, and partner slowly lifted me out of my depressed state to where I am today. I am by no means perfect; I have my bad days, but they are few and far between. Still, I know that I have my support network to keep me on a positive trend. That said, if my mom and partner hadn't agreed to stay away from me for Christmas, I wouldn't have realized how much I disliked where I stood. I learned from this experience that if a person wants to be alone, let them know that you will be there for them whenever they want, and leave them be. Sometimes, it takes being alone to figure out what you want in life. For example, if my support network pestered me constantly, I would not have been able to see that I didn't want to head in the direction my choices were taking me. As a result, I wouldn't have agreed to seek mental health, and I honestly can't say where I would be today.
    I Am Third Scholarship
    When I was younger, I loved the environment. My dream job was to help wildlife flourish and restore Earth’s natural habitats. This love of the environment has created my current goal in life, which is to become a robotics researcher, where I will be able to create solutions to solve and mitigate environmental disasters. It has become clear that the world we have lived in is coming to an end within our lifetimes, and I know that I have to prevent a complete climate catastrophe. I dream of finding numerous environmental solutions to current problems, such as reducing the trash in the Pacific Garbage Patch and restoring coral reefs and marine habitats. This dream I possess will not be easy to achieve, yet I feel in myself the ability to persevere until the end because I know this is what I am meant to do, and with that belief, I can do anything. I hope to specialize in marine robotics, as I have always felt a connection to the plight of our oceans. To achieve my life goal, I have gone down an academic path. I am currently a sophomore at Northeastern University studying mechanical engineering and minoring in mathematics. While obtaining my degree, I have worked in numerous research labs, most of which were centered around coastal engineering. I have loved learning about the world’s oceans and creating software to model coastal processes. Currently, I am creating an algorithm to detect shoreline change in satellite imagery, which is teaching me python and critical thinking skills. Outside of the lab, I am also the mechanical lead of the underwater robotics team at my school. From this, I have learned design skills as well as general robotics. Even though I love what I do, I am excited for the future where I will branch out and begin my goal of saving the world’s oceans. The positive impact I hope to have will be worldwide. I know that one day I will create a robot that will be able to remove the plastic in the Pacific Garbage Patch without disturbing the new ecosystem that has formed. Or maybe I will find a way to manage coral reefs to revive them. Whatever I do will restore coastal habitats, allowing marine life to flourish once more. I know I will achieve my goal because it is what I was born to do, and there is nothing I can’t do if I set my mind to it.
    Hobbies Matter
    I was born an engineer. As a child, I loved my blocks that I would stack as high as I could reach, I loved my crayons that I used to draw the things I saw around me, and I loved solving puzzles that my mom brought home with her. This love of creating something from nothing has continued throughout my life and led to the numerous hobbies I pursue now such as painting, embroidery, and piano. That said, out of all the hobbies I currently enjoy, the one that I enjoy the most has to be crochet. I first learned crochet when I was about 10. At the time, I hated it because I didn’t have the patience to truly understand the art and I just wanted an instantaneous reward. Although my mom tried her best to convince me to give it a shot, I refused. The second time I learned was when I was sixteen. It was the summer, I was cleaning my room and I stumbled upon my old crochet supplies. I was bored and decided to watch a Youtube video describing how to make a beanie. I followed the tutorial closely and after two painstaking hours, I had a beautiful hat sitting in front of me. I was hooked. Since then, I have created more hats, scarves, stuffed animals, blankets, and socks than I could count. Most of my works are given to friends and family as presents around the holidays. This past Christmas, I made five hats and three scarves that were given away as gifts. Besides gifting my works, I also engage with my university’s crochet club which does charity drives that I have donated to in the past and will continue to donate to in the future. Even though I wouldn’t call myself the best crocheter of all time, I love what I do and I have the confidence and skill to make anything I put my mind to. I think the reason why crochet has always stuck out to me compared to other similar hobbies is that it varies in complexity. Sometimes, I want to relax and watch television while I crochet and in order to do that, I need a simple pattern so that I can multitask easily. Other times, I want to show off my skills and explore a new complex pattern I haven’t done before, which requires intense concentration. Whatever mood I am in, crochet is there to support me and give me the tools to create a piece that I or someone else will love. At the end of the day, creating something out of nothing is my greatest passion, and crochet gives me the tools to make whatever I imagine from just yarn and a simple hook.
    Finesse Your Education's "The College Burnout" Scholarship
    Playlist Name: Phases of an All-Nighter Artist Name: Sleepytime Snoozies 1. Feeling Good - Michael Buble 2. Break My Stride - Matthew Wilder 3. Don't Stop Me Now - Queen 4. Geronimo - Sheppard 5. Exhausted - Chloe Moriondo 6. Talking to the Moon - Bruno Mars 7. Everything Sucks - Vaultboy
    Bold Great Minds Scholarship
    In the entirety of human history, there have been numerous scholars, leaders, and artists that have been adored throughout the ages. Examples include Isaac Newton, Princess Diana, and Picasso. That said, when asked who I admire from history, I usually answer Marie Curie. Marie Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted research on radioactivity discovered two elements (radium and polonium), and is the only person in history to have won two Nobel prizes. Her research in radioactivity led to numerous medical discoveries modernly called radiopharmaceuticals, which can detect diseases in humans as well as shrink and kill cancerous cells or tumors. The reason why I admire Marie Curie is that her discovery saved my mom’s life. In 2012, my mom was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Multiple doctors told her that her cancer was untreatable and that she needed to organize her affairs. That was until she found a doctor who decided to give treatment a shot. My mom endured months of treatment and surgeries until at last, she had one step left: radiation. The purpose of radiation when treating cancer is to damage a cancer cell’s DNA so that the cell stops dividing and dies. Without the discovery of radiation and the subsequent discoveries that led to the radiation treatment my mom underwent, my mom might not be here with me today. When I learned about Marie Curie’s work in school, I immediately connected the dots and realized that without Marie Curie, modern medicine would not be where it is today and I might have had to say goodbye to my mom prematurely. It’s for this reason that Marie Curie is someone I find admirable from history.
    Bold Climate Changemakers Scholarship
    I grew up in the generation that was told about how each of us had a duty to the Earth to reduce our waste and be eco-friendly. At my elementary school, we celebrated Earth Day each year by learning about different ways we could reduce our impact through engaging in various activities. This sentiment of reducing my impact as much as possible has stuck with me throughout my life and continues to this day. That’s why I have chosen a career path that will eventually allow me to design robots to mitigate and prevent environmental disasters. It’s my hope that humanity will be able to grow back the Amazon and clean the Pacific Garbage Patch within my lifetime, and I am hopeful I will be able to contribute to these causes and many more through my work in robotics. As for what I currently do to have a positive impact on the environment, the honest answer is that there isn’t much. There are plenty of activities I partake in to reduce the impact that I have, but I don’t believe that humans currently have a positive impact on the environment simply by living. Some actions I take to lower my impact include reducing the amount of laundry I need to wash and washing clothes on a cold setting, reducing my meat consumption to a few times a week, and eating protein supplements such as tofu and chickpeas in place of meat, and walking or using public transit instead of using a car to get around. All in all, I am hopeful that I will have a positive impact on the environment through my career and I am doing my best to reduce the impact I do have.
    Bold Great Books Scholarship
    I have always been fascinated with books. Before I was able to read, I would memorize the stories my mom read to me and pretend to read as I flipped through the pages of my books. Once I learned how to read, I never wanted to stop and soon the library became a frequent stop for my mom until I began to drive myself. All of the books I have read have left an indelible mark on me, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be Radium Girls. The radium girls were a group of women hired to paint watch dials using radium, a radioactive material so that the numbers would glow in the dark. At the time, being a watch painter paid well and gave the women a higher social status because of the glowing radium that would shine on their clothes. None of the women were given protection and were even instructed to consume the dangerous chemical by their managers, who insisted it was safe despite the company having internal knowledge about the harms of radium. Eventually, many radium workers fell deathly ill. Their employers denied any involvement with their sicknesses until eventually a group sued the company and they reached a settlement out of court. This event was among the first cases in which a company was held responsible for the wellbeing of its employees, which led to numerous reforms and the creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Organization. Radium Girls deeply inspires me by showing how a group of women battled their way against all odds to force their employer to admit wrongdoing. I believe this is an important piece of history to know about as well as a timeless story to remind us all that we deserve respect.