Austin Rayford – 2011 Pedrozzi Scholar

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Austin Rayford, 2011 Pedrozzi Scholar, shares some insights with the Pedrozzi Foundation on his experiences after receiving a scholarship:

“To the Pedrozzi Scholarship Foundation:

As a recipient of a Pedrozzi Scholarship back in 2011, I would like to reach out to update you on my post-bachelor’s degree experience thus far and also convey my continued gratitude to the Foundation for providing me with not only an incredibly generous financial head start in life relative to many other American college students, but also a vote of confidence in my ability to excel as a student. Both of these things have stayed with me even after graduating college and I cannot emphasize enough that I would not be where I am today without the Pedrozzi Foundation.

I finished my BS in Chemical Biology from UC Berkeley with an amazing final semester and capstone project at the Utrecht University Medical Center in the Netherlands. This exchange semester would not have been economically feasible without the financial support from my scholarship. After receiving my degree, I worked for two years as an automation scientist at Roche Diagnostics in Pleasanton. Collaborating with many teams around the world in the process of developing clinical diagnostics, combined with my experiences as an international researcher during my exchange semester led me to apply for graduate school in Europe.

I started my masters in biomedical sciences at the University of Bergen in Norway in 2017 and am currently working on my thesis project, which focuses on cancer stem cell research and its applications to immune checkpoint therapy resistance.

I have no doubt in my mind that if I had taken a student loan, which would have been inevitable without the Pedrozzi scholarship, I would not have been in a position to leave my job and pursue higher education abroad.

Quite clearly, this scholarship has had a profound impact on my life, and I am truly grateful to the Pedrozzi Foundation for placing their faith in me. However, I also believe that Livermore’s teachers and community members play an equally important role in allowing students to excel both academically and outside school. Notably, the Granada Biotech Pathway spearheaded by Elizabeth Lopez has inspired many students including myself to take an early interest in molecular biology and biomedicine and gave us invaluable skills that were a real advantage when we entered academia and industry. Coaches such as Noel Mattern inspired (and sometimes forced) us to push our minds and bodies further than we thought possible and live a healthy lifestyle. Parents and community members sacrificed their time to lead Scouting trips and facilitate marching band competitions, among a plethora of other activities.

These people, in addition to financial resources like the Pedrozzi Foundation, are what makes Livermore a unique and inspiring community that allows young adults to realize their full potential as they go out into the world.

To aspiring students out there, whether you are prospective scholarship applicants or current recipients: The world is your oyster. You don’t have to be a straight-A student, or do a million extracurricular activities, or have an exact plan for what you want to do in life. Just know that this town that you grew up in, whether you love it or hate it, has most likely prepared you better than most for what is to come. Take risks. Get out of your comfort zone. But most importantly, stay true to yourself.

Sincerely,

Austin Rayford
Granada High School, Class of 2011″