News: Press Releases

May 5, 2014

University of Massachusetts and Vertex award four-year scholarship to Boston Public School student

Phat Tran is the first recipient of the Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship that supports students pursuing degrees in STEM

BOSTON, MA-May 5, 2014-The University of Massachusetts and Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have announced the first recipient of the Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship, a four-year, full scholarship for high school students attending either Boston Green Academy or Excel High School in South Boston who are pursuing science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines.

Phat Tran, a senior at Excel High School, will receive the distinguished scholarship.  Phat, who emigrated with his family from Vietnam, will study environmental engineering at UMass Amherst in the fall. Driven by his experience surviving a typhoon that destroyed his family's village, Phat is passionate about improving infrastructure to make the world safer and better.  He believes that an education from the University of Massachusetts will help him achieve his goal.

The scholarship program is part of a three-year collaboration between Vertex and the Boston Public Schools that is designed to support STEM education and prepare students for college and STEM-related careers. Recipients can enroll at any of the UMass undergraduate campuses in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth or Lowell.

"UMass is honored to partner with Vertex to provide this scholarship to Phat, a deserving student, and to set him on the path to fulfillment of his hopes and dreams,'' said UMass President Robert L. Caret.  "Students like Phat are an important part of the fabric of what makes our university whole and dynamic, and we look forward to welcoming him on our campus and seeing the contributions that he makes."

"Job opportunities in STEM are expected to grow 300 percent over the next decade," said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Vertex. "We are committed to helping develop the next generation of leaders, and we are proud to partner with the Boston Public Schools and UMass to enhance science education in our community. On behalf of all of the people who work at Vertex, I would like to congratulate Phat on his accomplishments and wish him the best of luck."

"Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the members of the Boston School Committee have set a strong direction for our schools, which involve deep ties with the global leaders we have here in our community," said Boston Public Schools Interim Superintendent John McDonough. "Our students benefit when they can learn side-by-side with and be inspired by scientists, researchers and engineers. We are grateful to Vertex for their leadership and dedication to student success."

This year, Phat was one of many students who applied for the scholarship. Recipients of the Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship must meet all of the eligibility requirements including:

Be a graduate of Boston Green Academy or Excel High School; both schools are in South Boston, MA.
Intend to and remain enrolled at UMass Amherst, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, or UMass Lowell as a full-time student. 
Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 while enrolled.
File a FAFSA form and demonstrate financial need.
Have a minimum cumulative high school GPA of 3.0.
Be interested in pursuing STEM studies and careers.
Be a permanent resident of Massachusetts.

In addition to the four-year commitment made to Phat, Vertex is making a generous one-time contribution to this year's Vertex Science Leaders runner-up, Ramon Recio. Ramon is planning to graduate from Boston Green Academy this spring and begin pursuing a degree in Biology at UMass Amherst in the fall.

Vertex is a global biotechnology company that aims to discover, develop and commercialize innovative new medicines so people with serious diseases can lead better lives.  Vertex has a broad commitment to support science education with the goal of engaging our next generation of scientists.

The University of Massachusetts has been serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with dedication and distinction for the past 150 years and is consistently rated as one of the world's best universities. Each year UMass educates more than 70,000 students and confers more than 15,000 degrees at its five campuses located in Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell and Worcester.

UMASS MEDIA CONTACT:  Ann Scales 617-287-4084
VERTEX MEDIA CONTACT:  Elizabeth Lukegord 617-341-6992