For Jacob Springer ’21, the benefits of the Goldwater Scholarship began when he applied.
“The process itself forced me to reflect on my ambitions, research graduate programs, and consider my options for after graduation from Swarthmore,” says the honors computer science and mathematics major from Portland, Ore. “It really cemented my desire to pursue a career in scientific research.”
Months passed, and Springer’s attention shifted to the disruption the COVID-19 pandemic had on his spring semester. But after a friend reminded him of the timing of Goldwater Scholarship announcements, Springer spent the big day glued to his phone, rapidly refreshing his inbox.
“I was thrilled and honored to win the award,” says Springer, who immediately celebrated with his mother from across the kitchen table.
He joins this year’s class of 396 Goldwater Scholars from across the U.S., chosen from a pool of nearly 5,000 applicants. The scholarship, considered the preeminent award of its kind in the natural sciences, engineering, and mathematics, provides funding to college sophomores and juniors interested in these fields.
“The scholarship is just a stepping stone in my goal of pursuing science,” Springer says, “but it sure helps to have extra financial support.”
“I am excited for all of the opportunities the scholarship brings me,” he adds. “In particular, how it connects me with hundreds of previous and current Goldwater scholars with whom, one day, I may be working in close collaboration.”
Springer plans to pursue a Ph.D. that combines cognitive science and artificial intelligence, in hopes of one day leading a research lab. He credits Swarthmore for preparing him for this by giving him freedom to explore academics beyond his chosen field.
“At Swat, I take classes in many disciplines so that I can become a well-rounded global citizen while also developing the quantitative and communication skills that I’ll need to succeed as a scientist,” he says. “The Swarthmore community has been nothing but supportive.”