Renowned computer scientist, mathematician and engineer Annie Easely paved the way for generations of women in STEM, proving that with hard work and dedication even the greatest obstacles can be overcome. Her legacy has lasted for decades and is still inspiring the current generation of engineers, including Sophie Kothe.
Kothe, a biomedical engineering student and rising junior at VCU, was recently awarded the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship from the Department of Defense (DoD). The program provides accepted students with full tuition, annual stipends, internships, and guaranteed employment with the DoD after graduation.
“Since I’m a SMART Scholar I will go directly into working for the DoD post graduation," said Kothe. “In terms of personal goals I’m interested in taking on challenging roles in the DoD and working on projects with heavy impacts.”
Being awarded the SMART Scholarship emphasizes both Kothe’s focus and determination to her work and her impressive academic history, as she began working in a lab her second semester. Currently, she is a member of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) and the Society for Women Engineers (SWE). She has worked on many independent projects, with her work being published twice.
Both in and out of the classroom, Kothe notes the importance of her mentors throughout her educational journey.
“I’ve had many great mentors and opportunities through VCU Engineering. I think I’ve been very fortunate with what I’ve experienced,” said Kothe. “Mingyao Mou was the first Ph.D. candidate I ever shadowed under and she was a huge mentor to me. She is incredibly kind and thoughtful. She helped teach me confidence in the lab setting and showed me how fun research can be.”
As Kothe continues learning and building her skillset, she is excited at the opportunity being a SMART Scholar provides and for her future employment with the DoD.