Less than a decade ago, Nazirah Farach Rojo (Engr ’22) was living in a small town in rural Mexico—the same one in which she’d been born. She spoke no English and was unsure about her future.
Today, she’s a first-year UVA student, making the most of the University and working toward a career in biomedical engineering.
It’s a reality that still surprises her.
Farach Rojo is part of the inaugural cohort of 16 students selected for the A. James Clark Scholars Program at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Funded in 2017 by a $15 million investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation, the endowment provides financial aid and educational opportunities to students traditionally underrepresented in engineering. The gift qualified for a match through the University’s Bicentennial Scholars Fund, bringing the total for the Clark Scholars Program to $30 million.
To be accepted into the prestigious program, students must demonstrate academic excellence and financial need, as well as a commitment to the program’s foundational aspects of business, service, and leadership. Fortunately, Farach Rojo’s background made her a strong candidate.
Arriving in the U.S. at twelve years old, she initially found it hard to adapt. Through diligent study, however, she became proficient in English and, by high school, was enrolled in both standard and A.P. courses. The teen also spent time honing her leadership skills and community-mindedness as a member of her school’s JROTC program.
In 11th grade, Farach Rojo witnessed a presentation on biomedical engineering, and it was then that she discovered her passion for the field. Thanks to the encouragement of a trusted guidance counselor, she applied to UVA and was accepted.
Since arriving, Farach Rojo has been relishing the Clark Scholars Program’s unique and multifaceted curriculum, which focuses on three areas: global experience, business acumen, and leadership and service development. She’s also enjoying being part of a tight-knit community of scholars who are eager to share ideas and learn together.
While Farach Rojo’s exact career path remains to be seen, she’s gravitating toward the field of prosthetics design. For now, she’s thankful for the opportunity to study at UVA and for the impact the scholarship has had on her life.