Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: April 18, 2018
Contacts: Alenaa Yarmosky,

Governor and First Lady Northam Join Virginia Council on Women to Announce 7th Annual STEM Essay Contest Winners

RICHMOND – Today Governor, First Lady Northam, and the Virginia Council on Women announced the winners of the 7th Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for high school junior and senior young women.

“Encouraging young women to explore their passions and pursue careers in fast-growing, high-demand industries like science, technology, engineering and math is crucial to bolstering Virginia’s economy and making sure we continue to lead in these important fields,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “With this award, we celebrate the academic excellence of these talented students. I am pleased to recognize the awardees and wish them continued success in achieving their academic and professional goals.”

The Council on Women established this contest in 2012 to award scholarships to high school junior and senior girls planning to pursue STEM majors at institutions of higher education. Contest award winners represent five geographic regions across Virginia. Nearly 500 young women from across the Commonwealth submitted essays focusing on their vision for a future STEM career. The awardees were recognized at a reception hosted by the Governor and First Lady at the Executive Mansion on April 18, 2018. This year the Council was able to raise $50,000 and will be awarding each student a $10,000 scholarship.

The award recipients are as follows:

  • Eastern Virginia/Hampton Roads: Sidney Stephens, Princess Anne High School, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Richmond/Central Virginia: Alysse Winter Stephens, Mills E. Godwin High School, Richmond, Virginia
  • Northern Virginia: Marissa Sumathipala, Broad Run High School, Ashburn, Virginia
  • Southwest/Southside Virginia: Katherine Franklin, Graham High School, Bluefield, Virginia
  • Valley/Western Virginia: Hannah Steele, Liberty High School, Bedford, Virginia

Applicants must to be a female or identify as a female who resides in Virginia; be enrolled as a junior or senior in high school and hold at least a 2.5 GPA. 

The Council extends their sincere thanks to all of the sponsors and judges of this year’s STEM Scholarship Awards.  The sponsors include: Capital One, Dominion Energy, General Electric, Hunton & Williams LLP, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP, United Healthcare of the Mid-Atlantic, Murphy & McGonigle, P.C., Troutman Saunders LLP, Pfizer, Inc., McGuireWoods LLP, MacLaurin Group, Appalachian Power Company, Charles Ryan Associates, and Patient First.

The judges who generously gave their time in judging entries were Srilatha Ainala, Ada Bacetty, Suzannah Baker Stora, Swapna Bandla, Ivory Banks, Erin Evans, Bedois, Meta Braymer, Ikeita Cantú Hinojosa, Jennifer Chambers, Shameka Clark-Savage, Lindsay Conrad, Allison Couillard, Ronique Day, Traci J. DeShazor, Shannon K. Diggs, Marie Dingess, Beth Du, Ashley Edwards, Julianne Eldredge, Shalini Goyal, Melanie Gubbels Bupp, Christine Hales, Dr. Kristen Herring, Jennifer Honaker, Ngozi Ibe, Stephanie Iverson, Da’Shaun Joseph, Randi Joslyn, Barbara Kapas, Fay Manolios, Lori Merricks, Janice Miller, Ferha Mirdawi, Shermale Motley, Carol Rick Gibbons, Tina Robertson, Katy Sawyer, Sara Seagraves, Kristen Shannon, Eulonda Skyles, Melissa Southworth, Traci Stevens, Michelle Strucke, Dr. Lekeisha Terrell, Celia Telow, Diane Tomb, Noriko Wade, Kate Wilke, Iryna Wilson, Jennifer Wilson, Ann Yauger, and Kit Young.

The Council is pleased to partner again this year with the Math Science Innovation Center, who serves as the fiscal agent for the contest.

The purpose of the Virginia Council on Women is to help women reach their potential and maximize their contributions to society and the Commonwealth as wage earners and citizens.  The Council has initiated several projects to meet this goal.  One is the annual STEM essay contest for junior and senior high school girls.  For more information on the Council or on available sponsorship opportunities, please visit:

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