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Ezri Zemke

1095

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

1x

Winner

Bio

I am a 17-year-old autistic woman with strong opinions and lots of passion. One of the things I am most passionate about is food insecurity. I grew up in a neighborhood where many didn’t have consistent access to healthy food, and I was lucky enough to have that access. As such, this inequity weighs heavily on me. Being autistic, I struggle with connecting with people, but that doesn’t stop me from caring deeply about their needs. These needs have led me to be involved in many food-relevant volunteer experiences. Foremost of which is the Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant. I have been on their teen board since my sophomore year in high school and became treasurer in senior year. As part of my involvement, I have helped with food distribution, meal packaging, other forms of packaging, fundraising, and community awareness-raising. It has been a challenging but rewarding experience that has allowed me to give back to my community. I am also passionate about learning! I have always loved school and am driven towards academic success. I am currently a running start student at Eastern Washington University and will be graduating high school with approximately 2 years of college credit with a heavy focus on math and biochemistry. I am currently taking Organic Chemistry and am a chemistry lab TA. My long-term goals are to get a PhD in nuclear chemistry and genetic engineering, focusing on environmental reconstruction. I am passionate about many things and the only common denominator is that I put everything I have into my passions and don’t give up.

Education

Eastern Washington University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2027
  • Majors:
    • Mathematics
    • Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology

North Central High School

High School
2020 - 2024

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

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

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Botany/Plant Biology
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      nuclear chemistry

    • Dream career goals:

    • Personal Shopper

      Safeway
      2024 – Present7 months
    • Chemistry department TA for labs

      Eastern Washington University
      2024 – 2024

    Arts

    • North Central High School

      Theatre
      Heaven can Wait, Almost, Maine, The Enchanted Bookshop
      2019 – 2022

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Women's and Children's Free Restaurant — I was on the Teen Board whose goals are fundraising and community awareness. In my last year I was the treasurer for the Teen Board.
      2021 – 2024
    Laurette Scholarship
    I only received my diagnosis this year. I have always felt out of place and awkward compared to those around me. For a very long time I have had this awareness that I was different in some way; I just never understood how. School has always been my refuge. While there was still that difference from my classmates, school made sense. I love to learn and adored the predictability of education. I knew what I would be doing each day. In many ways, education has been everything for me, though I am now making efforts to extend my sphere of experience beyond the classroom. Receiving my diagnosis was a relief. I finally knew why I felt different, that I wasn’t alone in that feeling, and that nothing was wrong with me. My diagnosis allows me to better connect with and understand myself and allows me to further prepare for the future. My future involves continuing my education. I love school and frankly leaving it behind is a little bit terrifying. I know the transition outside of the academic world will be a hard one that I will have to face one day, but for now I am keeping my focus on transitioning into college. I plan on majoring in biochemistry and math. Math has always been a steady presence in my life. Where others are constantly shifting and unpredictable, math follows rules and there is always an answer. I’ve known that I want to continue my education in math since I first started contemplating college. As for biochemistry, I love the way that everything is connected and this field allows you to see the connections between you, your environment, and those around you. There is always something new to discover and chemistry allows you to look at the world on the smallest of levels. Not only does chemistry fascinate me, but it ties directly into my dream career. I want to work as a nuclear chemist and genetic engineer, focusing on increasing plants’ ability to thrive in radioactive conditions. My interest in nuclear chemistry started when I took the general chemistry series at Eastern Washington University. In chemistry, the law of conservation is central: no matter what reaction you are doing, the atoms stay present throughout the whole thing. But with nuclear chemistry the law of conservation is followed at a much more detailed scale; instead of conserving atoms, the subatomic particles are conserved allowing you to make an entirely new atom out of the same building blocks. Nuclear chemistry is a field that is still expanding, and a field that has done both a lot of good and a lot of harm. I hope to contribute to the good it is doing. As for my focus on plants, that is simple. It has been very hard for me to connect with other humans but connection with plants and animals is much easier for me and has been extremely rewarding. There are countless places on our planet that are uninhabitable due to radiation and nuclear waste. There are also countless plant species that are being destroyed by humanity’s need to expand. As such, it makes logical sense to find a way to turn these uninhabitable lands into places where life can thrive and grow without fear of destruction. I hope to be able to save some of the beauty of the natural world that is under threat. I know I have a long and difficult road ahead of me, but I plan on facing each challenge, and using the support I have from my community, overcome, and grow from them.
    Learner Calculus Scholarship
    I love math. Math connects everything and is essential to the functioning of the world. You can find it in nature, in chemistry, in physics, and in countless other places. In calc 3 you learn the principles behind Fibonacci’s sequence and series; Fibonacci’s sequence is easily witnessed all over nature with an easy example being the pinecone. This tie to the natural world is especially exiting for me since I love to hike and enjoy the outdoors, and I plan to eventually work with plants. In college, I plan to major in math and biochemistry, and as such have already completed the entire calculus series. Since taking a variety of classes in both math and chemistry, I have seen how the fields are deeply interconnected. Calculus is the basis of the math behind everything. Every equation in chemistry and physics has a direct tie to calculus. In general chemistry, when we were learning about kinetics, the equations were all based on calculus principles like integration (sadly, we didn’t go into the math behind it in my chemistry class). Kinetics is an essential part of chemistry in understanding why reactions go the speed they do and how to accomplish them more efficiently. Without calculus we would be sorely struggling to explain the principles we have today. Another huge field math is tied into is computer programming. The computer literally processes things numerically, but the essentiality of calculus goes beyond that. For my final in multivariable calculus, I got to research deep neural networks. These networks imitate the connections of neurons and allow us to fine tune a program to increase accuracy. For my final, I researched and created my own example of the math behind a neural network. Not only do neural networks play a large role in facial and computer recognition but they are also the building blocks along which AI will be perfected. While neural networks are not truly AI but more of a brute force attempt at intelligence, they provide the backbone along which true artificial intelligence will emerge. Math ties directly into every field, not just STEM. While the applications of math, especially calculus, are more visible in fields like physics and chemistry, which heavily rely on them, they play a less visible, but still essential, role in countless other subjects. A good example is music. Both math and music are considered universal languages, and at its core music is just math in an auditory form. The way sound travels in waves can be described through calculus, allowing us to grasp the beautiful complexities of a passion of humanity. An example of Calculus in an unexpected place came from my Calculus BC class. At the end of the year, everyone took a family recipe and translated the numbers into calculus equations. We spent time coming up with a variety of equations to meet our needs and double checking each other’s work. It was a fun way to apply the knowledge that we had acquired that year and it showed us the connection between math and everything. Calculus forms the building blocks to every STEM field and plays an integral role in the application of countless scientific fields. But it is so much more than a set of equation types. Calculus is connected to everything in our world, and by learning it we don’t just learn how to take the area under a curve, we learn to see these connections. Without calculus we wouldn’t fully understand the math behind each STEM field, and we would miss the amazing connections between them.
    Zachary Scheppat Memorial Science Scholarship
    Winner
    I love science. It is full of boundless potential, both for good and ill. Science is our way of understanding the world around us and seeing the connections between every living thing. I am someone who has struggled with connection, so science presents a unique opportunity for me. My goal is to learn more about these connections and to further not only my personal understanding, but the world’s understanding of connection. I am planning to undergrad in biochemistry and hope to pursue a PhD in nuclear chemistry. My goal is to work in genetic engineering in order to increase plants’ ability to survive and thrive in radioactive conditions. Nuclear chemistry is a field where the power for both good and bad has been extremely visible. This field of chemistry has produced both the atomic bomb and treatments for cancer, making it the perfect example of the limitless potential of chemistry. But in the furthering of our knowledge of nuclear reactions we have done irreparable harm to our planet. There are countless areas that are no longer habitable and won’t be for generations. These areas are more than radioactive monstrosities but have the potential to improve our world in unexpected ways. The human species is growing in magnitude and in this process of expansion has destroyed several habitats and environments. Because of this growth, many species are endangered or extinct. And due to the nature of connectivity, our planet will suffer from this loss of biodiversity. Everything is connected; as we kill off plant species, the Earth’s carefully balanced system is degraded, and we inadvertently put our own species in danger. As our species grows it is undeniable that we will need more space, leading to further expansion and destruction. But there is a way to save the fading biodiversity. Plants have shown limited ability to survive in radioactive sites, but long-term exposure removes their ability to reproduce and causes many other types of harm. If genetic engineering can remove or at least decrease the negative effects of radiation on plant species it would allow us to place the rapidly disappearing plant growth in areas that are protected from our expansion. Creating the ability for plants to thrive under radiation will provide the ability to bring back life to the sites of so much nuclear destruction and will save some of the biodiversity that keeps our planet alive. Our planet is very important to me and I hope that through pursuing an education in the sciences, I can play a role in rebuilding our environment.
    Carol S. Comeau Environmental Scholarship
    Some of my fondest childhood memories are of being out in nature; away from the sounds of humanity and surrounded by the gentle signs of life in the trees. But the places in our world where such memories can be formed are disappearing, and if we aren’t careful, will be gone in short order. Losing these pockets of nature does more harm than just removing beauty; it throws our planet out of balance and endangers life. My goal is to protect, preserve, and create pockets of nature in our highly industrial civilization, so that our earth will continue to thrive in the future. I plan to major in biochemistry and math, with either a greater focus on genetics and botany or environmental studies depending on what is offered. But my undergraduate degree is only the beginning of my journey. I will be pursuing a PhD in nuclear chemistry and genetic engineering in hopes of working on environmental restoration. Plants are essential to some of the simplest beauties our world has to offer, but we consistently destroy them in our endless need to expand. Without these plants, the careful balance needed for survival on our planet will be destroyed and countless species will be at risk of extinction. My goals tie directly into this problem. Due to the continual advancement in nuclear technology, there are multiple places on our earth that are uninhabitable for humans and will continue to be for generations. Radiation has hazardous long-term effects on all life forms, but there might be a way to decrease this. My goal is to strengthen the resistance of plants to radiation so that they don’t only survive but thrive under extreme conditions. This would increase the potential habitats that can be revitalized and provide the ability to save countless plant species. I love hiking and spending time in nature; it revitalizes me in a way that nothing else can. But the natural world plays an even more critical role than offering places of beauty and sanctuary to humanity. Without wildlife, balance on our planet will be lost which will create a large ripple effect endangering all life. My goal is to help restore some of this balance in places where humans can’t go to destroy it again. If balance isn’t maintained and nature isn’t valued, then there might not be a world to pass on to future generations and at the very least, it won’t be a world worth living in.
    Julie Adams Memorial Scholarship – Women in STEM
    I have always loved to learn and to be challenged. While all my classes have enriched me in some way, the most satisfying have been my STEM classes. For me, my love of STEM started with math. Math makes sense, it follows rules, and is a puzzle just waiting to be solved. Math challenges me to think and grow and has always brought joy to my life. I am autistic and have struggled with connecting with those my age, and that can be isolating. But even when I felt alone in a sea of students, math was always there for me. This early beginning has instilled in me a love of STEM that will never cease and is the reason that one of my majors will be in mathematics. I honestly can’t see myself in a world without math. Not only has it brought me so much joy, but as I have furthered my education, I have seen its connections to everything, especially in the sciences. My second major will be in biochemistry. Math is an essential backbone to chemistry and so for me, the two majors are very interconnected. One of the reasons I have chosen to major in biochemistry is its directly tied to my passion for math. Like math, chemistry is highly connected to the world around it. Chemistry is about seeing and understanding the interaction between everything at even the smallest levels. Being able to see and comprehend these connections is one of the most amazing experiences and simultaneously opens the world while allowing me to see that I am just one small part of something much larger. These two majors bring a sense of unity to my life that otherwise I would be lacking, and in both there is so much potential that it is exhilarating. While my passion for my majors has been ongoing and has direct ties into my childhood, it also has ties into my future. Chemistry is a field with ongoing discovery that has the potential to change our world and how we perceive it. My passion for my degrees goes beyond my love of the subjects and the continual need to learn more, and ties directly into my career goals. I want to go into nuclear chemistry, which is a field with so much potential for good, when approached correctly. Not only will majors in biochemistry and mathematics allow me to grow now, but they will prepare me for my future, as both have direct ties into nuclear chemistry and will provide me with the essential starting-ground for post-undergraduate education. My passion for nuclear chemistry is simple to explain. It is a constantly expanding field with much discovery in its future and countless outlets to improve human existence. I was instantly hooked during my nuclear chemistry unit by the ability to create one element from another, something that otherwise seems impossible. Nuclear chemistry is a field where I will never be bored, will always have something new to learn, and will challenge my understanding of the world. Not only will it allow me to continue growing intellectually but it will give me a tie to that universal connection and an ability to do some good for those around me.
    Our Destiny Our Future Scholarship
    One of the things that I have struggled with is human connection. I am autistic and so reading people and connecting with them is really difficult for me. But that doesn’t make humanity and the people that comprise it any less important to me. Something I am very passionate about is the state of our planet and the life that we share it with. Having genetic diversity is beneficial to our world and to us, and protecting our planet is essential to guaranteeing a home for future generations. Life is precious, but the actions and choices humanity has made are endangering all life on earth, from the smallest insect to the largest whale. I have always enjoyed my classes in the STEM fields, and I hope to use what I enjoy to better our planet, and the life experience of those on it. My goal is to become a nuclear chemist. Nuclear chemistry is a constantly evolving field of science with impacts on the environment, medicine, and countless other fields. While radiation is a terrifying thing for many people, it is unavoidable, especially since humans have discovered various aspects of nuclear chemistry. For example, nuclear chemistry has the potential to create renewable, clean energy, but in the process of getting there we have generated large amounts of nuclear waste. Since radiation is unavoidable and present in both the natural and artificial world, my goal is to find a way to make it safer for life, starting with plants. I want to work on genetic engineering that enables plants to not only survive but to thrive in irradiated areas. In the short term, some forms of radiation have been proven to aid in plant growth, but in the long run it removes the plants’ ability to reproduce and damages its DNA. Many areas in our world have been devastated by the effects of nuclear accidents or waste storage and so are uninhabitable for humans. This is land that is being wasted and left to deteriorate. As the human population grows there is a constant need for expansion and space leading to the destruction of more and more ecosystems across the globe. Many species have become endangered or are already extinct. Our need for expansion isn’t going to stop, so why not try to make it possible to use some of the few places we can’t currently inhabit? I hope to modify plants so that they can grow in these uninhabitable areas, allowing us to restore damaged and lost ecosystems. With the ability to increase plant growth in radioactive zones, these destroyed metropolises can become natural paradises, and eventually this focus on saving plant life can expand to the many other species on our world. As humanity grows, we risk destroying biodiversity and creating a planet barren of natural life. This not only limits the beauty of our planet but has long lasting effects as the careful balance that allows our planet to survive is destroyed. My goal is to help restore some of this balance by helping diverse life thrive in extreme conditions, and hopefully, preserving a planet worth living on for the future.