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Doctoral Students Take Top National Honors
Written by Megan Blackburn
Engineering doctoral students Edward J. William II and Rachel M. Bonas know first-hand that dreams can come true.
They recently were named the best and brightest in technology at the 2009 Golden Torch Awards, proudly representing the University of Idaho at the 35th Annual National Society of Black Engineers Convention in Las Vegas, Nev.
"This award means that all dreams can come true if you seek to accomplish the tasks," said William. "The tasks may become obstacles and may sometimes mean failure, but failure yields success with utilizing ambition."
William, an electrical engineering doctoral student from San Diego, Calif., received the 2009 Mike Shinn Distinguished Member of the Year. The prestigious award is given to one male and female NSBE member who has demonstrated high scholastic performance, dedicated service to NSBE and other organizations, and who possesses high professional promise.
As part of the U.S Navy sponsored award, William received $7,500 and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fly with the Blue Angels. In addition to his award, William was elected to a national advisory board position as academic excellence chairperson. He also will be featured in the upcoming issue of NSBE's magazine.
Bonas, computer science doctoral student originally from the islands of Trinidad and Tobago and current NSBE chapter president at the University of Idaho, received a $3,000 Board of Corporate Affiliates Scholarship.
She first came to the U.S. when she was 18 on a tennis scholarship from Norfolk State University in Virginia, where she received her bachelor's degree in computer science. Bonas then received her master's degree at Howard University in Washington, D.C., before pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of Idaho.
“It is my hope that while in a leadership position in NSBE, I can help influence as many young kids as well as University of Idaho students to strive for whatever their hearts can dream," said Bonas. "We do outreach with students in the area, and it is a joy to see their faces light up with excitement when we introduce them to many aspects of engineering."
"This is a remarkable student group with strong leadership," said Margrit von Braun, dean of the College of Graduate Studies. "The name of the awards says it all: 'The best and brightest.' These awards honor their hard work on behalf of the University of Idaho, which has included presenting robotics programs with the Boys and Girls Clubs throughout our region and recruiting for University of Idaho programs at national conferences. They are touching lives and demonstrating their own – and the university’s – excellence."