Athena Pinnacle Scholarship Winners

Athena champions the next generation of women leaders in science and technology with its annual Pinnacle Scholarships.

Each year, merit-based scholarships are awarded to 5 qualified graduating high school senior women in San Diego County. Winners receive their scholarships at our annual Pinnacle Awards dinner in May.

 View Past Scholarship Winners 

Pinnacle 2018 Scholarship Winners

 Shae Galli | Santa Fe Christian

Shae Galli has had an insatiable passion for Science for as long as she can remember. When she was four years old she asked for a microscope for Christmas and discovered the wonders of protozoa and her profound love of biology. This love of biology led her to a summer program at UCSD’s Rosetta Institute’s Educational Cancer Research program where she focused on the molecular biology of cancer. Last summer, Shae was selected for an internship at Scintillon Institute for Biomedical and Boienergy Research and spent time in the lab under her mentor, Dr. Murat Digicaylioglu Santa Fe Christian’s Academic Counselor, Jeralyn Johns, describes Shae as one of the most outstanding students she’s encountered in her thirty-one years in the field of education. Shae is one of only a handful of students in the history of Santa Fe Christian to take all the honors and Advanced Placement Science, English, Social Science and Art classes offered. Shae holds the highest GPA in her class and is a National Merit Commended Scholar ranked in the top 5.6% of women for the American Mathematics Competition.  In addition to her love of science, Shae is an artist and musician. She combines her love of music with her fascination with neuroscience by conducting research on how music affects the brain for her AP Chemistry class. Shae hopes to attend Harvard, Duke, USC or other schools to pursue her passions in science. She says she’s only scratched the surface of her love for biology and plans to continue her education after college in either graduate or medical school.

Rose Hong | Del Norte High School

Long fascinated by the possibility of building organs for biological research, Rose Hong was introduced to tissue engineering in her sophomore year of high school. She earned the opportunity to conduct research when she was accepted to the Garcia Research Scholar Program. She prepared a project that aimed to determine how well fibrin, a blood-clotting protein, could culture stem cells present in the pulp of teeth. Various program mentors advised Rose and introduced her to 3D bioprinting, an emerging technology used to engineer tissues.  Her experience as a Garcia Scholar inspired her to major in biomedical engineering and pursue collaborations on cutting-edge research at institutions like Harvard, MIT and Stanford. Her ultimate goal is to pioneer the next paradigm shift in tissue engineering. Rose’s counselor at Del Norte High School touted her tremendous initiative and risk-taking in her summer research starting from scratch on her project that led to recognition as a National Team winner at the Siemens competition in math, science and technology. On her high school campus, Rose takes on leadership roles and is credited with saving the Math club from collapse by creating one-on-one competitions to boost club enrollment. She was the first student at her school to simultaneously serve as president of three core academic school clubs. As a Fleet Science Center volunteer, she motivates students to pursue careers in STEM and supports other young women in STEM through her work with the Girls in Computer Science Club.

Alma Rincongallardo | Hilltop High School

A freshman year school trip to the Salk Institute opened up a new world for Alma Rincongallardo. Just three years later she obtained her first research internship at that very institution. Her interest in biology began in high school and led Alma to take Advanced Placement Biology in her sophomore year. Motivated by her success on the AP exam, she started volunteering at the Living Coast Discovery Center where she learned about ecology while giving back to the community. Through her strong network she began volunteering at a UCSD Biology Lab under the supervision of professor Justin Meyer. A strong proponent of teamwork in life and in science, she commuted 2 hours by bus daily for the opportunity to shadow college students and work in the lab. Leveraging her network further, she was accepted to the Salk Institute’s Heithoff-Brody Scholars Program where she contributed to the research of stem cells. Hilltop High School’s AP Biology teacher, Jessica Nascimento, calls Alma a natural leader with tenacity she has not seen in many students.’ Alma was determined to succeed in high school despite transportation obstacles and a lack of home internet at access. At her community’s summer camp program, Alma is committed to giving others the same spark of hope and show them everything they are capable of. The first in her family to attend college, Alma has applied to UC schools and aims to fully immerse herself in her college studies as she pursues either biology or neuroscience.

 Ritika Shrivastava | Del Norte High School

For Ritika Shrivastava, working as an electrical engineer also means being a magician. From the time she was little, she found her brother’s Legos and building blocks far more intriguing than her birthday gifts of jewelry and gift cards. Identifying herself as an ‘innovative builder’ she would open his gifts, read the manuals and construct the projects. Over time, her pursuits became more meaningful like setting up a water filtration system in her family’s yard. At Del Norte High School, Ritika took rigorous STEM courses and participated in Science Olympiad, Technovation Challenge and Raspberry Pi, where she explored her interest in IoT (the Internet of Things). IoT represents the integration of all things technology and Ritika sees herself mastering the art of teaching beds and walls to communicate one day. Her passionate pursuit of sparking magic in advanced technology will take her to Berkeley, MIT, Stanford, Harvey-Mudd or Caltech where she expects to gain the technical knowledge and real-life experience she needs to create the magic she envisions. Del Norte academic counselor, Kathleen Marron, describes Ritika as being on a mission of academic excellence and community involvement. She tackled fifteen AP courses and additional college-level courses while maintaining a 4.47 GPA and has been recognized as the 2017 Distinguished Young Woman of San Diego. Her volunteer work and internship at organizations like Kaiser Permanente and Calasia Pharma helped further cement her deep commitment to STEM and to giving back by cultivating a love of science in younger students. Ritika’s persistence carries over to her love of dance where she’s achieved mastery at the Arangetram level in Bharatanatyam classical Indian dance.

Veronica Tang | The Bishop's School

Veronica Tang loves math and computers more than jewelry. So, she co-founded the All Girls STEM Society for girls in grades 3-8 who feel the same way. Born an only child, Veronica now says she has hundreds of little sisters and together they program dancing robots, crush strawberries for their DNA and aim to become trailblazers intent on breaking all limits. Irasema Triana, Computer Science Department Chair at Veronica’s high school notes that Veronica’s organization has helped teach over 2,500 young women from 230 schools and 24 school districts how to do math, use Scribblers, and code using Python, App Inventor, Scratch, along with instructing them on several other STEM related applications during her monthly workshops. Veronica participates in Programming Club and plays a leadership role with Math Field Day, an all-girls math tournament in San Diego. It’s a natural fit for someone who’s pursued competitive math since middle school and participates in the MIT Math Prize for Girls contest, a competition for the top 300 girls in mathematics from the United States and Canada. She credits her love of STEM for giving her adventures and allowing her to travel. Veronica’s next step in changing the world will take her to Harvard, MIT or Stanford where she’ll live and breathe the technological advancements affording her the opportunity to influence technology trends and societal trends. She views the STEM field as the future and knows women not only need a voice in it but also need the recognition they deserve based on their accomplishments.