Kaleigh Coker, 19 – FUNDED

While Kaleigh Coker is no stranger to rejection, she also has an inspiring story of perseverance on her pathway to her dream. This sophomore and Paliwal Club of 100 STEAM Scholars Fund winner is currently attending Hendrix College as a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology major. Here’s more of her story!

What is your professional dream?

My dream is to be a genetic researcher and eventually teach genetics to undergraduates.

What does being in the Paliwal Club of 100 mean to you? 

I am now a member of a group of amazing, underrepresented scholars. I’m honored to be among such unique and talented people.

Women are underrepresented in the S.T.E.A.M. (science, tech, arts or math) fields and music industry. How can we change this? 

As women, we should encourage other women to actively chase their dreams in STEAM fields. Entering a male-dominated field can be terrifying, but we can be the motivation and the role model another woman might need in order to take that first step.

What are some of the challenges you have faced along the way?

Seven out of the eight colleges I applied to rejected me. Discouragement hits me hard and that specific feeling persisted way past its welcome. The rejections forced me to take a step back and analyze myself to discover why I was denied. I said goodbye to procrastination and developed better time management and writing skills that help me further my student career now. I can be proud of my achievements today because my rejection made me grow both as a student and as a person.

How will this grant from the 1,000 Dreams Fund help you reach your goals?

This grant will help me figuratively and literally broaden my scientific horizons by funding study abroad.