The Columns

Two W&L Students Win Goldwater Scholarships

— by on April 9th, 2009

Two Washington and Lee University students —  junior Bena M. Tshishiku from Martinez, Ga., and sophomore F. Andrew Tessier Jr. from New Orleans, La. —  have been awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.

They were among the 278 Goldwater Scholars selected from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students. It’s the first time in W&L’s recorded history that two students have won this scholarship in the same academic year. The one- and two-year awards cover tuition, fees, books and room and board, up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

“The Goldwater Scholarship is highly prestigious, and the awards process is very competitive,” said Marcia France, W&L’s Goldwater liaison and professor of chemistry. “I am delighted that this year the achievements of two W&L students have been recognized with this honor.”

Tshishiku, a math major who did research with assistant mathematics professor Katherine Crowley last summer, plans to continue studying 2-simple, 2-simplicial 4-polytopes. “Bena understands what is required to do research in mathematics,” said Crowley. “He is already producing significant results in the fields of topology and combinatorics. He made significant contributions to the solution of an open question we answered together last summer — one that each of us may not have solved on our own.”

“Working with Dr. Crowley last summer, I developed a love and understanding of research, which inspired me to apply for the Goldwater,” said Tshishiku. “I learned what questions a researcher asks and how to approach a problem. These skills helped me write my Goldwater research proposal and will be vital as I continue toward graduate school.”

After earning his Ph.D. in mathematics, Tshishiku plans on combining teaching with his love of research. “Peer tutoring at W&L has prepared me for the teaching aspect of being a professor,” he said. He’s a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and Student Activities Organization and is a high school math and physics tutor. His hobbies include cooking and reading science fiction.

Tessier, a physics-engineering major, mentioned in his proposal that he plans to continue studying turbulent processes in compressible flows, among other projects. Joel Kuehner, assistant professor of physics and engineering, commented, “It is a well-deserved reward for his dedication to the engineering program and especially to our research project. Without Andrew’s diligence, we would not have been successful this past year. It has been a privilege to have him in class and to work with him in the lab, and I look forward to watching him continue along this decorated path.”

“I am extremely happy to have won a Goldwater Scholarship, and I feel fortunate to have represented Washington and Lee University in this competition,” said  Tessier. “This award is a real honor and a tribute to the type of education and research available here. I hope to build upon this success in competitions for future fellowships and continue to represent the university proudly.”

While at W&L, Tessier has been a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, has been involved in Catholic Campus Ministries and on the review committee for the EC constitution. Future plans include obtaining a Ph.D. in mechanical or aerospace engineering and then conducting research on or building future spacecraft. He will intern at NASA this summer.

In 1986, Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program to honor Senator Goldwater for his exceptional service to the U.S. Goldwater served this country for 56 years as both a soldier and a statesman, including his 30 years in the Senate.