CLIFTON PARK — Brittany Reed, a Shenendehowa graduate, has always been a high achiever, a trait that led to her recently winning a prestigious scholarship from Syracuse University.
Reed graduated from Shen in 2013 and is about to enter her senior year at Syracuse. She was recently one of 35 students at the college to be named a Remembrance Scholar. The scholarship, which is awarded yearly, was founded as a tribute to the 35 students who were killed in the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Remembrance Scholars are chosen in their junior year through an extensive application process. To win the chance to be interviewed, students must write three essays, and the finalists are interviewed by members of a scholarship selection committee, composed of Syracuse faculty, staff and current Remembrance Scholars. The $5,000 scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic achievement and service to the community.
Reed said the point of the scholarship is to remember and pay respects to the students who lost their lives on the flight, more so than to elevate the students who receive it each year. But, she said, it’s an important resource for the students who are selected because it links them to a network of more than 900 alumni who have previously received the scholarship.
Reed, who studies bioengineering, was nervous after the interview due to the open-ended nature of the questions she was asked.
“This was very on-the-spot thinking,” she said. She admitted to being hard on herself after her interview and wasn’t convinced that she had done well enough to win one of the scholarship slots. But, to her surprise, she ended up winning, and she said that she immediately called a friend to share the news.
“I was so excited,” she said.
Reed will have a full plate going into her senior year and has mastered the role of the busy college student. Along with classes, she is the treasurer of the Society of Women Engineers on campus, as well as an orientation leader. She spends time advocating for women in technology fields and recently visited a refugee center to talk about her experience as a female in a male-dominated field.
She has a part-time job and also enjoys ballet to relax. Above all, Reed said college — and internships — have afforded her the opportunity to discover that she doesn’t simply want to be an engineer, and that she has a significant interest in the design and outreach side of technology-driven fields, as well.
“It’s not the only thing that I am,” she said of being an engineer. “It was just cool to have these opportunities.”
Reed will focus on her senior capstone project next year, along with completing the labs and credits she needs to graduate. She said she would like to get her Ph.D. but wouldn’t be opposed to working right out of college, if the right opportunity came up.
“We’ve really been proud of her,” said Brittany’s mother, Dawn. She admitted that she and Brittany’s father, Willis, have always been worried that the amount of work their daughter takes on might become too much, but Brittany has proven time and time again that no workload is too heavy.
“She doesn’t let it intimidate her at all,” Dawn said. “She always seems to manage it.”
Dawn noted that, from a young age, Brittany wanted to be a part of everything and to help people. She recalled one of Brittany’s childhood ballet classes, during which a fellow student became upset after being yelled at by a teacher, and Brittany told her mother that all she wanted to do was go to the student and give her a hug to cheer her up.
“Her heart just goes out to people,” Dawn said.
Reed will be honored at a ceremony for the Remembrance Scholars in Syracuse in October.