Kennesaw State alumna addresses new graduates, endows scholarship

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 10, 2023

Photo of President Kathy Schwaig and Georgia McGaughey
President Kathy Schwaig and Georgia McGaughey
Kennesaw State University alumna Georgia McGaughey, a leading scientist in the pharmaceutical field, encouraged graduates of the College of Science and Mathematics in a commencement speech Tuesday and left the lasting gift of an endowed scholarship.

Topping off the return to her alma mater, McGaughey created an endowed scholarship to help future generations of Kennesaw State science students from underrepresented groups. The scholarship was established with a $50,000 endowment and will be based on merit and financial need.

“While writing my commencement speech, I realized how foundational Kennesaw State was to where I am now, and I thought it was time to give back,” she said. “I have a real affinity for helping diversify the sciences, so I hope the endowment can support someone with a real love for science — someone who might want to be philanthropic themselves someday.”

McGaughey enrolled at Kennesaw State while still in high school, earning dual credits toward both her high school and undergraduate diplomas. After graduating high school, she continued her studies at KSU and majored in chemistry. She credited several professors for further stoking her love of chemistry and for engaging her in undergraduate research.

“The professors I had were incredibly accessible and very supportive,” she said. “I loved that they were so generous in sharing their knowledge with their students, and I hope that I can repay some of that generosity.”

McGaughey is vice president of the data and computational sciences group at Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. in Boston, working to set strategy for the research arm of the company. During her 25-year career, she has also worked for leading pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Merck. She serves as a board member and treasurer for the Silent Spring Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to exploring the link between chemicals in the environment and women’s health, particularly breast cancer.

McGaughey earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from Kennesaw State and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Georgia. Away from working and volunteering, she is a pianist and an avid runner. She has two daughters, one of whom is a chemist and another who is a college student. 

– Dave Shelles
Photos by Matt Yung

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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