UNK Graduate Awarded 2008 National Defense Science And Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Curt Carlson
Vice Chancellor for University Relations, 308.865.8529

UNK- University of Nebraska at Kearney computer science and information systems graduate Holly Esquivel has been awarded a 2008 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship, which covers tuition and fees for three years plus a $30,500 annual stipend.

Esquivel, a Lincoln native, graduated Summa Cum Laude from UNK in May of 2007 and is now attending graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. The NDSEG is sponsored and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. She is one of approximately 200 recipients chosen from among 3,400 applicants.

Recipients are selected by the Air Force Research Laboratory/Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office and the Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program Office. The American Society for Engineering Education administers the fellowship.

As a senior majoring in computer science at UNK, she received an honorable mention in the National Computing Research Association’s (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Award competition. The CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Award is presented to students across the nation who show research potential in the computing field. Applicants for the award must be nominated by two faculty members and be recommended by their department chair. Nominees are judged based upon the quality of their research, as well as their academic performance and community service.

Esquivel was one of only 53 students in the nation to receive an honorable mention in conjunction with the Outstanding Undergraduate Award. She was the second UNK student in three years to receive the honor, and she attributed much of her success to her education at UNK.

“My professors and adviser, Dr. John Hastings, have done a tremendous amount for me, and I really can’t thank them enough. They’ve given me hope, guidance and insightful ideas whenever I needed anything. They have helped prepare me for what I want to do–-research,” Esquivel said.

In addition to the Outstanding Undergraduate Award, Esquivel was selected earlier last year for another CRA honor, the CRA-W Distributed Mentor Program, which is a highly selective computer science mentoring program. She was one of only 45 students in the nation selected from among more than 225 applicants for the computer science research opportunity.

As the winner of two competitive national awards at the undergraduate level, Esquivel had sound advice for other students who are thinking about competing on a national playing field: “Be yourself. Do what you are passionate about and make something of it. It’s all about showing that you can make a difference in some way by being who you are and what you’re interested in.”

An honors student, Esquivel was president of the UNK Association for Computing Machinery and a fellow in the UNK Department of Computer Science and Information Systems. Her memberships include Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies, as well as the American Association for Artificial Intelligence.