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Villanova Presidential Scholar Joana Petrescu Recognized by Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program

Goldwater is considered to be the premier undergraduate award for STEM fields of study

Joana Petrescu

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Villanova University Presidential Scholar Joana Petrescu ’14 LAS, a rising senior from Warrington, Pa., has been named a recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, making her the 9th female and 15th Villanovan overall since 1995 to receive the prestigious award.

Established in 1986, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was designed to foster and encourage outstanding students to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship is considered to be the premier undergraduate award of its type for these fields and was awarded to only 272 students nationwide for the 2013-2014 academic year.  The Scholarship covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to $7,500 a year.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is the premier undergraduate award for students in the sciences, engineering and math,” said Jane Morris, Director of the University’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. “The success of Villanova students in the Goldwater competition reflects not only the exceptional ability of our students, but the commitment to undergraduate research with faculty mentors that Villanova has made.  Joana represents the ideals of the Goldwater Scholarship as a research scholar with significant commitments to serving the community.”

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.

In November 2012, Petrescu helped develop and implement a panel discussion at a Healthcare Policy Symposium, held on Villanova’s campus, which reflected an integrative approach to understanding the complex issues surrounding health care in today’s society by including an economics, medicine, and policy perspective. The event was attended by more than 100 students from Philadelphia area colleges.

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 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.

Upon graduating from Villanova, Petrescu plans to pursue an MD/PhD in pediatric oncology.

About The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program: The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, who served the country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate. The purpose of the Goldwater Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields.

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.