Two seniors at MIT were named to Glamour magazine's Top 10 College Women list and are profiled in the magazine's October issue, which hits newsstands Sept. 14.
Swati Maria Saini, a senior in management and brain and cognitive sciences from Tracy, Calif., was recognized for her work helping people with diabetes and for her achievements as a Truman scholar, vice president of the Society for Women Engineers, a cheerleader, and a campus emergency medical technician (EMT).
Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee, a senior in brain and cognitive sciences from Bothell, Wash., received the honor for her groundbreaking research on the immune response and for coordinating medical care for 11 women's shelters and orphanages in Honduras.
The awards recognize women who have demonstrated campus leadership, community involvement and academic excellence. Each winner receives $1,500 and a trip to New York in addition to the national recognition in the magazine. Past awardees include the first woman accepted on the Harvard Crimson editorial staff, the first Hispanic woman to win a Rhodes scholarship, and the first female brigade commander at the U.S. Naval Academy.
"It definitely is a very nice complement to my final year at MIT," said Lee, who said she is not a regular Glamour reader. "I found the application process itself very rewarding as it gave me an opportunity to really reflect on everything I had been working on since my arrival at MIT. It encouraged me to sit down and put everything together and evaluate my college life."
Saini, who has worked as a model, won a Miss Jr. Teen California pageant in high school, and competed as a gymnast and dancer in national competitions for many years, said that she frequently refers to Glamour magazine for "styles, trends and seasonal makeup ideas."
"It's great to be recognized. I remember getting the call when I was in New York City and I was on a busy intersection and I was pretty much telling the lady that called me that she made a mistake," said Saini, who plans to donate her prize-winnings to a tutoring center for dyslexic students in her hometown.
"In my town I work with a lot of the younger students, either by being their basketball coach, cheerleading coach and choreographer, pageant consultant, tutor or mentor," she said. "I know a lot of the girls I work with look up to me and have told me that they see me as their role model. Most of them don't understand how someone like myself can be girly and ambitious at the same time, so I spend most of my time teaching them that they don't need to fit a certain stereotype. I try to show them that it's possible to do it all."
Both women are Burchard Scholars at MIT, earning the award for their contributions in the humanities. They were guests on Boston's Kiss 108 "Matty in the Morning" show on Sept. 7, registration day at MIT.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 15, 2004 (download PDF).