VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University Presidential Scholar Joana Petrescu ’14 LAS, a senior from Warrington, Pa., has been named a 2014 recipient of the Marshall Scholarship, making her the first-ever Villanovan and one of only 34 college students nationwide selected to win this prestigious honor. The award will support two years of post-graduate research in cancer biology at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Founded in 1953 by an Act of British Parliament, and named in honor of US Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan and express the continuing gratitude of the British to Americans. The Marshall Scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious scholarships in the world.
“The entire Villanova community joins with Joana [Petrescu] to celebrate her recognition as the University’s first-ever Marshall Scholar,” said the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, OSA, PhD, Villanova University President. “Joana’s leadership in the Villanova’s Presidential Scholarship Program has distinguished her on campus while her important research on pediatric health illustrates the very bright future she has ahead of her. Joana is most deserving of this prestigious honor.”
Petrescu is a triple major, currently pursuing degrees in Biochemistry, French and Honors. Since her freshman year, she has participated in undergraduate research projects at Villanova, Thomas Jefferson University and most recently at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). At CHOP, Petrescu studied the role of DNA damage response in pediatric cancer and provided care to patients and their families in the clinic.
“Joana Petrescu is brilliant, but she is so much more than that,” said Jane Morris, Director of the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. “As a Villanova Presidential Scholar and undergraduate research student at Villanova and at CHOP, Joana has used her intellectual gifts and her innate compassion to improve the lives of people suffering from cancer. Joana lives the ideals of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas and I can’t imagine a better ambassador for Villanova and the US at Cambridge as a Marshall Scholar.”
Petrescu is a leader of the Presidential Scholarship Program, holding the position of Interview Program Co- Chair this past year where she was a primary contact for prospective high school candidates. She played a critical role in recruiting incoming scholars by coordinating a three-day intensive program for 57 prospective students that consisted of interviews with faculty committees, informational sessions, group projects, class visits, and overnight stays.
In November 2012, Petrescu helped develop and implement a panel discussion at a Healthcare Policy Symposium held at the University. The panel reflected an integrative approach to understanding the complex issues surrounding health care in today’s society by including an economics, medicine, and policy perspective.
In 2011, Petrescu spent the summer studying in Rennes, France. She is a tutor for fellow students in Villanova’s Learning Support Center and she also tutors children at an elementary school in Philadelphia. Additionally, Petrescu is a medical staff volunteer for Villanova’s Special Olympics Fall Festival Games and a member of the Alpha Epsilon Delta Premedical Honor Society.
Petrescu was awarded the 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of her commitment to research. She eventually plans to pursue an MD/PhD in pediatric oncology.
The Marshall Scholarship and other nationally competitive scholarship competitions are administered at Villanova University through the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. The Center also administers the Presidential Scholarship Program and maintains an ever-growing list of scholarships, fellowships, research grants, and internship opportunities for students to investigate.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.