Benjamin Arbaugh, a 2014 Westminster High School graduate, was recently named the recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Foundation scholarship, an award which will help him continue his education.
Arbaugh, who also attended the Carroll County Career and Technology Center for the Project Lead the Way Engineering program, received his B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from the University of California, Davis in June. While at Westminster, he ran cross country and track all four years and played trombone in Jazz Band and Wind Ensemble, making All-County. Outside of school he was active in 4-H and showed dairy cattle at the Carroll County and Maryland State Fairs.
While at Davis, and Arbaugh continued running with the UC Davis Cross Country and Track Club and also got into marathoning and trail running. He also got involved in research in an engineering lab on campus.
The Carroll County Times caught up with Arbaugh to learn more about his future education plans.
Q: Tell us about the award you won. What did you receive it for, and how did it feel to win it?
A: The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation offers scholarships to students with financial need who plan to attend a four-year university.
I first received the Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship in eighth grade when I entered their Young Scholars program. During high school the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation helped to build my college application resume through summer programs and service trips. Senior year the Foundation helped with the college admission process and I applied to their college scholarship program. As a JKCF College Scholar I received up to $40,000 per year for school to cover tuition and living expenses at UC Davis.
When I decided graduate school was in my future I was encouraged to apply to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Graduate Scholarship, which is for JKCF College Scholars who have completed study at their undergraduate institution. The scholarship offers up to $75,000 toward a graduate degree.
Receiving the award for these past few years has been a huge relief. It has allowed me to focus on my studies without needing to worry about how my family and I would be able to pay for college. For graduate school it means I'm going into the start of my PhD with the peace of mind that I still have the Foundation behind me.
Q: Why do you want to attend graduate school? What are you majoring in?
A: I'm currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Systems Engineering with a designated emphasis in Biotechnology at UC Davis. I'm currently researching the long-term stability of plant beneficial bacteria and their application to sustainable agriculture. I chose to continue my education at Davis because of my involvement in research on campus during my undergrad, and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree in the field.
Q: What do you want to do once you graduate? How will this award help you to achieve your dreams and goals?
A: After graduation I plan to enter industry and continue with research in this and other fields of engineering.
Q: Why are awards like this so important? Would you be attending graduate school if you had not received it, or would it have been more challenging to get there without this award?
A: Awards like this are important because they give students the opportunity to accomplish things in life that they never dreamed of. Before receiving the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship I would not have thought I would go so far away from home for school, but with the Foundation at my back I've been encouraged to think big, work hard and achieve all I can.