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Published 04/18/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 51 sec 

ATLANTA – A Spelman College student has been selected to receive a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Joya Sims, Class of 2022, a mathematics major from Atlanta, is one of 396 undergraduate scholars selected for the prestigious award for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“Goldwater scholarships are extraordinarily competitive and go to exceedingly high performing students,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “We are proud of Joya for reaching such a high bar of academic excellence. We also celebrate those within the Spelman community who helped her achieve such an accomplishment. Accolades like this highlight the academic excellence of  Spelman students and the staff and faculty who provide guidance and support.”

Established by Congress in 1986, the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation honors Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater by providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors interested in careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

Goldwater Scholarship winners were selected following a rigorous and high-competitive selection process that drew more than 5,000 applications from top undergraduate students representing institutions across the United States. Among the winners of this year’s award, 50 scholars are mathematics and computer science majors, 287 are majoring in the natural sciences and 59 are engineering majors.

Sims’ long-term goal is to become a physician-scientist and a leading nephrologist at a teaching hospital. Before that, she hopes to conduct translational research in glomerular diseases and raise awareness around the importance of kidney health. She considers winning the Goldwater Scholarship an opportunity to develop access to a life-long national community of aspiring scientists and physician-scientists from all backgrounds and fields of study.

“I am very blessed and grateful that I was selected to be a Barry Goldwater Scholar,” she said. “This award encourages intellectually curious individuals, like me, who have a passion in any domain of research, to achieve all we desire. This experience has revealed the critical importance of diverse academic and professional exposure and access, as well faith, confidence and mentorship.”Sims credits members of the Office of Undergraduate Studies, including DeKimberlen J. Neely, Ph.D., associate dean and Stacy Washington, special academic programs manager, as well as  Kiandra Johnson, senior instructor in the math department, with providing her with the support and encouragement she needed to achieve this academic milestone.

“They challenged my expectations, provided personal and professional advice, and encouraged me throughout this process,” said Sims. “Their support wonderfully paid-off and made this accomplishment not just mine, but collectively ours.”

This year, through a partnership between the Barry Goldwater Foundation and the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs, the number of Goldwater Scholarships were increased.  Since 1989, the Goldwater Foundation has supported 9,047 students with an overall scholarship amount of $71 million.

“As it is vitally important that the nation ensures that it has the scientific talent it needs to maintain its global competitiveness and security, we saw partnering with the Goldwater Foundation this year as a way to help ensure the U.S. is developing this talent,” said Jagadeesh Pamulapati, Ph.D., director of the NDEP.

About the Barry Goldwater Scholarship in Excellence Foundation
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship in Excellence Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a solder and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. By providing scholarships to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering, the Goldwater Foundation is helping ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly-qualified professionals the Nation needs in these critical fields. Over its 30-year history, Goldwater Scholarships have been awarded to thousands of undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to win other prestigious awards like the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Fellowship, Rhodes Scholarship, Churchill Scholarship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship that support our Scholars’ graduate school work. Today, Goldwater alumni can be found conducting research that is helping defend the Nation, finding cures for catastrophic diseases and teaching future generations of scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

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About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News and World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching and No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit

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