GRC student awarded local DSM scholarship

George Rogers Clark High School student Sarah Kubican received a $2,500 scholarship last week.

“I’m still in the surprise stage,” Kubican said.

DSM Winchester, a global materials and life science-based company, awarded the grant as part of Project Lead the Way.

Jennifer O’Brien, a teacher in GRC’s biomedical pathway, said students enrolled in bio-med classes could use project-based learning to prepare them to be leaders and innovators in STEM.

In the senior level bio-med classes, O’Brien said students have the chance to work on an individual final capstone project of their interest. Students then do research or experiment on a chosen topic and showcase the project to DSM to apply for a scholarship.

DSM Nutritional Products, which is in the Winchester Industrial Park, “delivers innovative solutions that nourish, protect and improve performance in global markets such as food and dietary supplements, feed, pharmaceuticals, alternative energy and bio-based materials,” according to the company website. DSM has over 23,000 employees in about 50 different countries and six continents.

The scholarship finalists included Nathaniel Bush, Jordan Cantor, Gabriel Williams and Yiting Wu. Kubican, the scholarship recipient, presented her findings on research about innovating metabolic panel testing for emergency services.

“I didn’t know what to do it about,” Kubican said. “ … We knew that this project is coming up from the very first year and that you’re supposed to choose a research project or an experiment. But I chose to do neither.”

Kubican said she Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of Theranos, which The Observer dubs a “debunked blood-testing startup,” first inspired her.

“My dad told me that I should be just like her,” she said. “And then we realized that she was a fraud. And then he was like don’t be like her. But her entire company was based around changing the way we test blood.”

Kubican said she thought if she were to make a company to test blood, what would she do. She then had an idea, sketched it out and went to work.

“I went throughout the web and tried to find stuff that would prove my ideas right,” Kubican said. “It finally compiled in my paper, and it was something that I was doing in all of my free time.”

Kubican said one idea was using color metric strips, akin to strips used for pool testing. Kubican started on the project in August 2018. Along the way, Kubican said she learned a lot. She said O’Brien helped her learn stoichiometry, which is the calculation of reactants and products in chemical reactants.

John Rutten, site director at DSM Winchester, presented the scholarship. Rutten said the company likes to give back, so it focuses on health and nutrition as well as education.

“What we would like to say is the DSM stand for ‘Do Something Meaningful,’” Rutten said.

Rutten said the scholarship was created to promote the importance of higher education, especially in developing STEM skills.

“We feel that being a global company that it’s our responsibility, our obligation not to just be a company that makes money and profits but also a company that does something, and contributes to the betterment of the world.”

Rutten said giving the scholarship is one way DSM can ensure STEM is the way of the future.

“We’re able to provide encouragement through this scholarship,” he said.

Kubican has also worked at Catalent through Adecco’s YES! program and was selected as a Youth Salute honoree last year. Her accomplishments also include French Honor Society, Beta Club, National Honor Society, Literary Journal member and editor, French Club, placing three times in the Clark County Art Exhibit, vacation Bible schoolteacher, small group leader and youth band guitarist at Central Baptist Church. She was also a former mentor at the Rowland Arts Center.

Kubican said she is considering majoring in biomedical engineering and then later pursuing a master’s in chemical engineering. Though, she is still undecided on which college she plans to attend.

“Both of my parents are in STEM,” she said. “ … So I grew up with math people … And in middle school, they had this program come, and they showed us what they did … They have this fictitious woman, Anna Garcia, with all of her many problems, and you’re supposed to find out how she died … And I loved ‘Law and Order.’ So I was like that is the best thing ever. So I took that, and slowly, I just continued with it because of all of the intricacies of the human body just intrigued me so much.”

Winning the scholarship, Kubican said, was just further validation of her hard work.

“I have a 4.0, which is pretty high up in my classes, and everyone told me I’d get a free ride to college,” Kubican said. “And I’m looking out, and my cheapest is going to be for $40,000 for four years, and that’s way too much for me to pay … So every little bit helps.”

Kubican said she would also like to thank for her friends, family, church’s and parents’ support, O’Brien’s help and, of course, DSM for awarding the scholarship.

“I would not be here without them,” she said.