Nov. 8, 2023
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Every year, the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships (ONCS) connects University of Arizona students to distinguished academic awards. Many of these awards are considered some of the most prestigious, merit-based awards in the country, and the students who receive them are nothing short of extraordinary. 

Franke Honors senior Sarah Stamer is one of those extraordinary students. 

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Stamer was awarded the 2023 Astronaut Foundation Scholarship (ASF) and was formally presented with the award in a ceremony last week on campus. She was joined by retired NASA astronaut Bruce Melnick and Nathan Hadland, a former scholar and current Lunar and Planetary Laboratory doctoral student. 

The Astronaut Scholarship is one of the largest merit-based scholarships awarded to undergraduates in STEM and is supported by more than 80 astronauts from across the history of the US space program. Only two students can be nominated from qualifying schools.  

“I was so excited and a little shocked when I heard I received the [award],” said Stamer, who was notified last spring. “I was packing up the things in my dorm room, ready to move out after a challenging but rewarding junior year, and opening that email and receiving the good news was what I needed at that moment.”  

Double majoring in both Astronomy (with Honors) and Physics at The College of Science, Stamer is currently working on her Honors Thesis with Dr. Chris Impey in astronomy education. Her research looks at how student reasoning compares to expert reasoning on a culminating assignment in an Astrobiology Massive Open Online Course.  

“I’m passionate about working to ensure that everyone has access to a quality science education, and increasing diversity, equity, inclusion, and access within astrophysics, especially for women and historically and presently marginalized groups,” she said. 

Stamer is involved in a multitude of spaces across the University of Arizona campus. She is a College of Science Ambassador, the Philanthropy Co-Chair for the Franke Honors Ambassadors, a Peer Leader for the Tucson Initiative for Minoritized student Engagement in Science and Technology Program (TIMESTEP), a member of an inclusive campus ministry called Frontera Wesley, a Percussion Section Leader for the UA Symphonic Band, and a member of the UA Astronomy Club. She also enjoys reading, watching hockey, playing percussion, and has recently gotten into crocheting.  

When asked about her advice for success in applying for scholarships, Stamer imparts valuable and simple words of wisdom. 

“The biggest advice I have for anyone wanting to apply is to just try. You never know what will happen, and even a no is still an incredible learning process. Reach out for help if and when you need it, and know that there are so many people cheering you on as you complete your applications. And finally, a huge thank-you to the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships for helping me through the process!” 

After graduation, Stamer has hopes of pursuing a Ph.D. in Astronomy or Planetary Sciences, researching exoplanet composition or something related, as well as finding ways do science outreach in the local community. Long-term, she aspires to have a career that blends her love of astronomy research with her love of science education. Her scholarship from ASF will no doubt contribute to helping Sarah achieve these goals in the future. 

Fund your dreams and learn more about scholarships available to you by visiting the Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships.