Best of the Bronx: Manhattan College student wins prestigious STEM scholarship

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A Manhattan College student is taking home a prestigious scholarship.

Miguel Diaz is usually found tinkering away inside a lab at Manhattan College, working on experiments.

Diaz, who was born in Puerto Rico and grew up in the South Bronx, is majoring in mechanical engineering and getting a minor in physics at Manhattan College.

After seeing his hard work, his professors urged him to apply for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a scholarship that is awarded to college sophomores and juniors intending to pursue research careers in natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

Diaz says he had to write some personal essays and a research proposal. He talked about his research on concussions in women's lacrosse.

On the day of the scholarship announcement, Diaz was busy working on a project when he went to check his email, he at first thought he didn't get it, until a word caught his eye.

“It said congratulations and I was like, what? Is this actually happening? Like and then I read through the email and I actually got it and I was surprised,” says Diaz.

The scholarship is worth $7,500, which will go toward paying for Diaz’s senior year. The Goldwater Scholarship also comes with big recognition. 

“To be able to say that I am a Goldwater scholar goes a long way for like any graduate program or PhD program, working for like any government organization, everything,” says Diaz. 

This summer, Diaz will be doing research on self-driving cars at a university in Germany.

He wants to go on to grad school and his dream jobs are to work on jet engines and work at NASA.

While his work may seem complex to some, Diaz encourages his peers not to sell themselves short.

"I think anyone has the ability to do something STEM and to be creative because STEM is also a creative outlet for people,” says Diaz.

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