Kennesaw State sophomore earns prestigious Goldwater scholarship

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 30, 2022

Kennesaw State University sophomore Angel Vasquez has been awarded a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, presented annually to the nation’s top undergraduate scholars in the sciences, mathematics and engineering.

Angel Vasquez

Vasquez, a chemistry major, is one of 417 recipients selected this year and is the fourth Kennesaw State student to earn a Goldwater scholarship, joining Jiexi Liao in 2013, Biya Haile in 2019 and Trae Dunn in 2020.

“Earning a Goldwater Scholarship is a great achievement, and we are very proud of Angel’s accomplishments,” said Kennesaw State President Kathy Schwaig. “Kennesaw State is dedicated to offering students like Angel engaged learning opportunities that support and challenge them to grow as scholars while preparing them for their post-college careers.” 

Vasquez began his academic journey at Kennesaw State as a high school senior dual-enrolled at KSU and Lassiter High School in Marietta. He sought out the physics lab of associate professor Kisa Ranasinghe, where she conducts research on glass science and technology. 

“It was clear from the start that he’s an incredibly curious and motivated student,” Ranasinghe said. “He doesn’t wait for direction. He puts forth his own thoughts on our research and he just does it. I am amazed with his ability to work at this level.”


Michelle Miles, KSU’s director of national and international scholarships and fellowships, said Vasquez serves as a prime example of getting involved with research early on in one’s education — even before enrolling in college. She said he has fully embraced the opportunities offered at every turn.

“In my estimation, Angel is emblematic of the reason the Goldwater Scholarship exists in the first place: to support the growth and fuel the potential of the best and brightest young STEM researchers,” Miles said. 

The child of Central American immigrants, Vasquez credits his parents for impressing upon him the importance of education. He also acknowledged his mentors at Kennesaw State, including Ranasinghe, associate professor of chemistry Rajnish Singh and professor of chemistry Huggins Msimanga, for providing research opportunities and guidance. He said he plans to earn a doctorate but hasn’t ruled out the possibility of medical school or an MD-Ph.D. combination at the intersection of medicine and materials science. 

“I’ve always had a desire to help people and learn about how physics and chemistry can explain the world, and I’ve enjoyed these opportunities at Kennesaw State,” Vasquez said. “This scholarship is a great honor, and it feels good to know that the work is recognized.”

– Dave Shelles
Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit