Grant recipients are permitted to study at any institution in the United States or an affiliate program of a U.S. institution in another country. McNeill, who majored in biology and mathematics, graduated in May. She said she has always had a passion for science, but her interest in math was not sparked until her second semester at Baylor.
"It will probably take me four years to finish my graduate degree, but having three years paid for is a huge help," McNeill said. "I took Calculus III, absolutely loved it, and decided to add a math major."
There were more than 12,000 applicants this year for the 2,000 grants awarded. NSF looked for applicants who demonstrated potential to successfully earn a graduate degree and demonstrated the knowledge and ability to become influential in a STEM-related field. Applications were reviewed by an expert in the field in which the applicant indicated he or she wanted to further his or her studies.
McNeill said she hopes to be a professor and conduct research, focusing on imaging and diagnostics. She said she plans to continue her studies at Rice University, studying biomedical engineering.