A Sense for Senescence: Cooke Scholar Vinny Wagner
From an early age, Vinny Wagner has been drawn to science. What started with a young boy’s fascination with astronomy has grown into a love for other sciences like biology and physics. Recently he has become particularly interested in the intersection of physics and human genetics. Now, with the help of the Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, he is pursuing this interest as he studies biophysics and computational biology at Princeton University.
“I want to approach questions of the genome with the skill set of a physicist,” Vinny said of his future career aspirations. “I would love to be a researcher specializing in genomic sciences as it applies to senescence, essentially the biology of aging. I’d like to be on the forefront of discovery made into extending, and more importantly, improving the quality of life at older ages.”
But Vinny isn’t always in the lab. He loves being outdoors and spending time in nature. To him it’s a valuable way to unwind and recharge after putting so much energy into his studies. It also gives him the opportunity to connect with friends. He also developed connections with his fellow Cooke Scholars at our recent Scholars Weekend event, where his cohort met each other for the first time.
“I became a part of something bigger,” he said of the impact it had on him. “I learned to embrace my identity as a student from a low-income background and had the immense privilege of joining a community of others who’ve been through untold struggles. Through the Foundation, we were given an avenue to outreach our voices to communities which would otherwise not hear them. It’s truly a family, and I’m honored to be a part of it”
Vinny will receive up to $40,000 per year for up to three years of study to complete his bachelor’s degree, along with opportunities for internships, study abroad, and graduate school funding.
“You’re going to hear this a lot, but I want to hit it home,” he said when asked what message he would have for potential applicants. “The scholarship goes beyond the money, which in itself is amazing. Being a Cooke Scholar places you in a position to make the most of the other resources that the Foundation offers when it comes to career planning, networking, and educational counseling”
Follow Vinny’s footsteps community college students, apply today!