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Future Dentist Honored with American Mathematical Society Scholarship

The American Mathematical Society (AMS) recently awarded a $3,000 scholarship to Darling Lupe Garcia ’22, and the funds could not have arrived at a more opportune time.

Garcia, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, was studying remotely last semester from her home in Los Angeles and was having trouble meeting expenses because she could not perform her on-campus work study job. The scholarship helped to bridge that gap. “It was a financially stressful time,” she said, “and then I found out that I’d won an award that I didn’t know anything about.”

Darling Lupe Garcia ‘22Photo: Stockton Photo, Inc.

Garcia was nominated for the scholarship by Professor and Chair of Mathematics and Statistics Charles Steinhorn, who had been impressed with Garcia’s work in a class he had taught during her sophomore year. The AMS awards eight scholarships a year to students at participating colleges chosen at random, Steinhorn explained. Scholarship recipients are selected by each college’s mathematics faculty. “I nominated Darling last summer, and others in the department agreed with my choice,” Steinhorn said. “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this scholarship.” 

Garcia said she decided to major in mathematics, with a concentration in statistics, because she plans to become a dentist. “Statistics play an essential role in evidence-based dentistry practice and research,” she said, “and my undergraduate degree in mathematics will provide me with the critical thinking and communication skills needed in the field.”

Garcia, a first-generation college student, serves as an intern in Vassar’s Transitions program, which provides support for incoming first-generation and low-income students. She said the program “had such a positive impact on my life in my first year at Vassar that I was motivated to apply to be an intern.”

Garcia is also a coxswain on the Rowing Team, serves as treasurer of Contrast magazine, a student publication that focuses on style and fashion, and is a member of the Latinx Student Union.

She said that while she and her father had always shared a love of mathematics, she didn’t decide to concentrate in the field until she took that first class with Professor Steinhorn. She said she plans to pursue her dental practice in underserved communities. “When I came to Vassar, I knew I wanted to do something in the health field,” Garcia said, “and dentistry is a hands-on profession where I can use my skills as an artist—it’s the perfect application of art and science and community service.”

A well-timed scholarship is helping her to achieve that goal.