University biology student receives national scholarship

by Royale D 

For The Daily

Amanda Kostyk likened winning a scholarship founded by some of America’s most prestigious astronauts to landing on the moon.
Kostyk, a microbiology senior, was one of 17 scholars in the nation to receive the $8,500 award granted by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. She said the scholarship has been applied to her love of scientific research.
The scholarship foundation was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Fla.
Kostyk used the scholarship award to travel to London to conduct global influenza surveillance. Kostyk monitored different types of influenza that were causing local outbreaks all over the world.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I want to be able to help people.”
Candidates from participating educational institutions must be nominated by department heads or faculty members. Applicants must also be in their third year of study, have a competitive GPA and research experience, according to the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation Web site.
Professor David Largaespada, an assistant professor in the genetics and cell biology department, nominated Kostyk because he said he admired her determination and optimism.
“She showed great ambition for an undergraduate. Also, other staff thought she was perfect for the scholarship,” Largaespada said.
After receiving the nomination, Kostyk’s name was included with other University students who had also been nominated. A University committee then narrowed the list down to two students, whose names were submitted to the Astronaut Federation Scholarship Committee.
Kostyk made the University cut but said she still had doubts that she would be selected.
“When it was down to two people, I still thought I wouldn’t get it. I’m a biology major and 90 to 95 percent of people picked are from engineering,” Kostyk said.
When Kostyk received the letter informing her that she had received the scholarship, she could hardly believe it. “When I heard I won, I screamed,” she said. “Everything I was thinking about before was erased out of my mind. I was elated.”
After graduation, Kostyk plans to enroll in a program that will allow her to complete a master’s and doctorate degree at the same time. Her place of study is undecided, but she wants to focus on immunology, the study of the body’s immune system.