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Recipients of NRG’s Annual Chairman’s Scholarship

Where are they now?

Recipients of NRG’s Annual Chairman’s Scholarship

Where are they now?

Published 03-24-23

Submitted by NRG Energy

Graduates mitre shown with gold tassel.

Originally published on NRG Energy Insights

By NRG Editorial Voices

Since 2011, NRG has awarded high school seniors the NRG Chairman’s Scholarship for displaying outstanding academic performance, exemplary extracurricular performance, and modeling NRG’s core values. Available to students of NRG employees, the scholarship honors Howard E. Cosgrove, NRG’s first Chairman of the Board and dedicated champion of education.

2022 scholarship winners:

Darshan Lakshimarayanan, Physics at Rutgers University

Sala Tran-Huu, Computer Science at the University of Houston

In addition to awarding this year's winners, we followed up with several past recipients to hear how the award has impacted their lives. 

We also learned where former recipients are on their journeys.

Photo of Zenetta Hinojosa
Photo: Zenetta Hinojosa

Zenetta Hinojosa

The University of Texas at San Antonio

BS in Psychology with Neuroscience / Biology Minors

Graduation Year: 2025

Tell us a little about yourself

I’m originally from Corpus Christi, Texas. My favorite things to do when I have free time include painting, reading, and finding ways to make a better cup of chai tea.

Tell us about your current career ambitions and/or accomplishments

After I graduate from UTSA, I hope to gain admission into a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. My future goal is to have my own research lab at a university and a private practice. To foster these ambitions, I have joined two psychology labs at UTSA focusing on identity development in minority populations. Last summer, I had the opportunity to conduct behavioral neuroscience research at The University of Pennsylvania in the Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation.

How has receiving the Chairman’s Scholarship positively impacted you?

The NRG Chairman's Scholarship has granted me mobility in not only my educational ambitions but also my educational curiosities. Often, people are hesitant to explore their dreams fearing failure and the implications these fears could have on moving forward. Although this scholarship is a source of assistance, the faith and reassurance it instills is a continuous source of support. I am now a better student, but more importantly, a stronger learner.

What advice do you have for those considering applying for the scholarship?

For students applying for the scholarship, show that you have aspirations above being successful. How are your unique talents going to help people? Education is our unlimited potential. Remember that your work is valuable.

How do you empower others to make progress in their journeys?

As human beings, one of our greatest attributes is gratitude. Whenever I feel lost or overwhelmed, I write a list of things, large or small, that I can appreciate. If someone around me feels stuck, the first thing I recommend is to try encouraging or serving someone else. We often forget how much we inspire each other and how vital positivity can be on our journeys. In times of regret, intimidation, or worry, serving others is a safe haven.

Photo of Sam Dietrich.
Photo: Sam Dietrich.

Sam Dietrich

Harvey Mudd College

BS Engineering with Electrical / Computer Engineering focus

Graduation Year: 2017

Tell us a little about yourself

I am from Houston, Texas, and recently moved to the Seattle area. I have a one-year-old son who loves to hike (when it isn't raining).

Tell us about your current career ambitions and/or accomplishments

After graduating, I spent four years in Los Angeles building hardware and software for experimental satellites and terrestrial research systems. I am currently at Microsoft developing programmable hardware accelerators for Azure. I hope to further develop my skills on both sides of the hardware/software divide.

How has receiving the Chairman’s Scholarship positively impacted you?

The scholarship enabled me to attend my first-choice school, where I discovered my passion and found great professors and opportunities. It made the potentially hard decision of choosing a post-secondary school much easier.

What advice do you have for those considering applying for the scholarship?

It is hard to find the motivation to submit more applications on top of college applications, and I was hesitant to apply for some scholarships because the acceptance rates seemed low. The right scholarship is worth much more than the time spent applying. Don’t filter yourself out of selection before it has even begun by not applying. Leave it up to the scholarship committee to determine if you are a good fit.

How do you empower others to be innovative?

Listening is the best way to empower people around you. Letting someone explain their ideas to you and asking meaningful questions helps their ideas fully develop. You often hear a new perspective you hadn't considered before that will broaden your horizons and become a tool for your own innovations.

Photo of Bethany Holtz
Photo: Bethany Holtz

Bethany Holtz

Gettysburg College (BS), Saint Joseph’s University (MS)

BS and MS in Biology

Graduation Years: 2016, 2022

Tell us a little about yourself

I'm from Medford Lakes, NJ, where I've lived my whole life. I love my hometown nestled in NJ's Pinelands. In fact, I ran (unsuccessfully) for a seat on the Borough Council. Growing up in a town filled with lakes helped develop my love for nature and water. In high school, I engaged in various environmental science activities like Envirothon and Science Olympiad. In college, I pursued a degree in Environmental Science and Art Studio. A winter break spent volunteering at Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, solidified my desire to pursue a career in marine biology. While there, I encountered my first sea turtle, and my heart set. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family, surfing, flying my drone, posting interior design creations on Instagram, and tending to my marine habitat, a saltwater aquarium filled with clownfish, starfish, and various invertebrates.

Tell us about your current career ambitions and/or accomplishments

I am currently the Outreach Manager at SEE Turtles, a nonprofit geared toward conservation and connecting the general public with sea turtles. I work on various projects, including Sea Turtle Week, an international public awareness and education event that occurs each June. I’ve conducted sea turtle research along the southern Atlantic coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean. While building field laboratories, I’ve studied sea turtles and their nesting areas in remote locations. My field research has been published, and I have presented at international sea turtle conferences.

To advance in my field and continue my research projects, I am looking to pursue a Ph.D. in marine biology. During this time, I hope to work on projects geared toward conserving these endangered animals. I also hope to engage and help educate the public about ocean conservation issues.

How has receiving the Chairman’s Scholarship positively impacted you?

The NRG Chairman's Scholarship allowed me to go to a college of my choice. I was able to choose a small liberal arts school where I could pursue my love of science and art at the same time. Being in a smaller school without huge 400-student-sized lectures allowed me to connect personally with professors and develop meaningful relationships that have lasted to this day. One of these relationships with my professors led to my first research opportunity with sea turtles. This research question resulted in several projects I am still working on. Other relationships allowed me to develop my interest in photography, which I have used to photograph animals and ecosystems.

What advice do you have for those considering applying for the scholarship?

Applying for the NRG Chairman's Scholarship is like applying for anything else. I recommend putting your best foot forward and highlighting what makes you unique. Use the application to share what makes you an individual and what your passions are. Grades and extracurricular activities are important, but the Scholarship Committee wants to know they are investing in someone's future. Let the Scholarship Committee know what makes you different and what you hope to go on to pursue, and make that investment worthwhile.

How do you empower others to make progress in their journey?

Now that I have worked my way up in the science field, I try to provide others with what would have helped me at the beginning of my college career. For example, this past year, I was able to add an assistant to my field research project. I recruited a young woman who had taken care of my pet turtle and tortoise while I was traveling (she was in high school at the time). In her, I saw the same passion I had at her age. When the research assistant opportunity came along, she was a sophomore at Miami University on a marine biology track and my choice for the role. I brought her to St. Croix and introduced her to the unglamorous parts of being a field scientist — the long, hot sticky days and sandy nights. It was a real in-field experience, far from a classroom or university lab.

At grad school, I helped my lab mates navigate state and federal permitting processes to research protected turtle species and develop research proposals. My NRG-funded Gettysburg College experience catapulted me ahead in my chosen field. I am grateful for where I am and try to share my knowledge and experiences when they are helpful.

Catching up with the future

It’s inspiring to follow up with these talented young leaders-in-the-making as they move forward with focus, a good sense of themselves, and optimism for a world they will soon inherit. NRG is honored to provide scholarships that invest in our collective future.

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