MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship Winners Include Creative Medical Student From Japan

by Juliet Terrill | In In The News, Pick of the month | 7 March 2021 | Updated on: March 24th, 2021

MPOWER Financing is proud to continue our Women in STEM Scholarship Program, which first launched two years ago. We were excited when our first round received almost 300 applications, but this round shocked us in the best of ways! During the most recent cycle, we received over 800 eligible applications, from over 100 countries and 180 universities. 

Our MPOWER team was again immensely impressed by the talent and dedication of these applicants. It was a difficult decision, but we narrowed the winners down to a Grand Prize Winner to be awarded $5,000 and two outstanding women for our Honorable Mentions, each receiving $1,000 for their studies. We are excited to announce the recipients of the MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship award.

Check out their amazing stories!


Grand Prize Winner: Yoshiko Iwai, Medical Student and Patient Advocate

Japan, University of North Carolina School of Medicine

YoshikoYoshiko, a medical student from Japan, has an impressive and unexpected degree background. Previously, she received two Master’s degrees from Columbia University in New York; an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and an M.S. in Narrative Medicine. This multi-discipline approach was inspired by her mother’s experience with the healthcare system in Japan when she was going through breast and lung cancer treatments. Yoshiko was, “troubled by the physician’s ability to assess her body but not her humanity, and have since been motivated to find effective empathic communication.” 

During her time at Columbia, Yoshiko “studied communication by analyzing patient-physician stories and structural narratives that illuminate systemic injustices causing disproportionate suffering and ill-health.” Yoshiko is excited about the opportunities at the UNC School of Medicine. She believes her studies will, “allow me to use the humanities to serve patients and continue research at the nexus of cancer care, carceral justice, and narrative medicine.” Yoshiko hopes to pursue surgical oncology while using Health Humanities to improve medical education.

“As an international student in the U.S., opportunities for financial support are limited and hard to come by. I am honored to receive the MPOWER Women in STEM award and am excited to put this towards my medical education.” Yoshiko said. “I am most grateful for this confidence boost to pursue my goals in surgery and clinical research.”


Honorable Mention: Jessie Hughes, Global Leader in Emergent Technologies

Australia, Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Jessie HughesJessie is a Master’s of Design Engineering student at Harvard University. She is excited about the program, and is eager to, “create innovative and transformative solutions that positively impact society.” 

Jessie is a global leader in emerging technologies, with over 70 media interviews under her belt. Her resume includes independent technology contracts with companies such as Facebook, Oculus, and Adobe. Additionally, Jessie has founded three tech start-ups, and “exhibited innovative new media projects at SXSW, Sundance, Cannes and the Tate Modern”. She is also highly aware of her potential as a role model for other women and girls in STEM. In her essay, she expands on this, stating, “I continue to defy the gender paradigm in tech, inspiring women and girls into positions of leadership. I seek to continue to inspire women into the STEM industries, as well as into the highest forms of leadership.”

With the turbulence of Covid-19 impacting the higher education sector, in particular, the study plans of international students, MPOWER’s organizational and financial support couldn’t have come at a more valuable time. Supporting women who are trailblazers in the fields of STEM is critical for how we design in a post-pandemic world, ensuring equality and equity is embedded into these new foundations.” Jessie said. “I’m humbled to be recognized for this incredible award, and I will continue to advocate for the power of creative thinking when applied against the STEM disciplines.”


Honorable Mention: Zaina Muqbel, Speech Therapist and Language Development Researcher

Jordan, MGH Institute of Health Professions

ZainaZaina is a Ph.D. candidate in Rehabilitation Sciences at the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, Massachusetts. Her background as a speech therapist and director of the Research and Innovation Program Phi Science Institute in Jordan is a great testament to her drive and experience in the field.

Her current passion for children and language development began during her undergraduate studies. In her application essay, she writes about how she, “assisted in data collection of 40 children and adults for three studies related to stuttering, and completed analysis and transcription of more than 20 samples.” After her degree completion, she began her work as a speech therapist in Jordan and encountered many bilingual children with language delays. She hopes to increase the knowledge of this field in her region. Zaina plans to research Arabic bilingual language development.

“Hope and motivation, that’s how MPOWER inspires ambitious women,” Zaina said.

We’d like to congratulate all of our winners, and we encourage all international and DACA students to apply to the next round of Women in STEM Scholarships, which is open through July 20!

Author: View all post by Juliet Terrill

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