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YaAsantewa Mustapha


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My fascination with chemistry stems from its ability to unlock the mysteries of matter and create products that enhance the quality of life. The field of cosmetic chemistry, in particular, intrigues me as it blends science and creativity to formulate beauty products that can make a real difference in people's lives. However, my motivation goes beyond personal and professional aspirations. As a person of color, I am acutely aware of the disparities in skincare education and representation. Melanated individuals often face challenges in finding products that cater to their specific needs, and the lack of awareness about proper skincare regimens can lead to various skin issues. I believe that I can play a crucial role in bringing about change by becoming a cosmetic chemist.


Valparaiso University

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2024
  • Majors:
    • Chemistry

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Associate's degree program
2019 - 2021
  • Majors:
    • Chemistry


  • Desired degree level:

    Master's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

    • Chemistry
    • Cosmetology and Related Personal Grooming Services
  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:


    • Dream career goals:

      Own a skincare company, Non-profit leader

    • Cosmetic Chemistry Research Intern

      McKinley Resources
      2019 – 20212 years


    • Chemistry

      McKinley ResourcesIntern
      2019 – 2020

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      Sickel Cell Disease Association of IllinoisParticipant
      2017 – Present

    Future Interests





    Minority Cosmetic Science Scholarship
    Imagine catching fleeting glimpses of beauty, captivating but just out of reach. In those moments, a choice emerges: indifference or a yearning for more. My mother was the former. The world wouldn’t glamorize her experiences. She worked hard and did what society told her to do. Yet, after doing all the right things she was still burning the candle on both ends which always meant putting herself last. Growing up my mom was disconnected from beauty. She loathed picture day and any other occasion that would call for her to put in effort into our looks. From elementary to middle school my sister and I sported our school uniform with a uniform hairstyle. Every morning before school my mom would “slap our hair in a ponytail and call it a day” (as she would say). As I got older this meant my sister and I would eventually have to take on the responsibility of caring for our own hair. Teaching myself how to do my hair resulted in a lot of damage. However, I wore those heat damaged curls and wonky twist-outs proudly. These seemingly failed attempts brought out a lesson on self discovery that ignited my passion for beauty. Expanding my horizon to makeup and skincare by the time I reached high school. Figuring out my own style, I saw my mother’s interest in beauty start to blossom. As I taught her how to apply lashes and curate her skincare routine I got to witness her self discovery journey which brought purpose to my passion. I set out on a mission to help people discover themselves through beauty. This is why I am now in college majoring in chemistry with a focus in cosmetic science. I want to formulate skin care geared towards people of color. My passion for beauty led me to realize that my experience is not just my own. The problem lies in the philosophy that the beauty industry was built upon which did not include women of color. Leaving women of color a vague introduction of beauty leading to similar experiences like my mother and I. Although it is purposeful to help people discover themselves through beauty I realize that my mission is much deeper. I want to redefine what is deemed as beautiful in the beauty industry from the position that is more viable to make effective change. As a cosmetic chemist I intend on formulating skin care products that are clinically tested on all Fitzpatricks and make the knowledge of skin care more accessible to people of color. I’d like to demystify skincare from being a form of luxury and instead have it re-imagined as healthcare. Afterall, the skin is the largest human organ. I’ll make products that are affordable and seamlessly add to the quality of life of consumers. I am committed to paving the way for meaningful change, starting with initiatives like mentoring Chicago’s female inner-city youth to bridge the gap between the lack of women in STEM and people of color in cosmetic science. As I reflect on the journey that brought me to this point, I found a passion that sparked my own sense of purpose but also allowed me to reconnect with my mother in a profound way. I remain grateful to find opportunities like this scholarship because it makes it possible for me to pursue my degree and accomplish my career goals. I know there are others like me ready to reformulate the beauty industry and I look forward to seeing how that change unfolds. Together we can rewrite the beauty narrative and empower women of color.