Graduating McNulty scholars Kim Nguyen, Corinna Nöel and Molly Southwell.

Graduating McNulty scholars Kim Nguyen, Corinna Nöel and Molly Southwell.

Inaugural McNulty Scholars Graduate Poised to Take on STEM Field Leadership Roles

Well before the “Gender Ambition Gap” rose to national consciousness, Saint Joseph’s University was working to address the issue.

Launched in 2009, the University’s John P. McNulty Scholars Program for Excellence in Science and Math annually accepts three academically exemplary women and prepares them to fill the female leadership void in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

The program’s first cohort – mathematics major Corinna Nöel, and biology majors Kim Nguyen and Molly Southwell – graduated in May.  These young women are now ready to apply the leadership concepts they learned on Hawk Hill into the next chapters of their lives.

Anne Welsh McNulty

Anne Welsh McNulty

“It is impossible to look at these women, and their classmates behind them, and not consider the McNulty Scholars Program a success,” said Anne Welsh McNulty, who partnered with the University to establish the program in honor of her late husband, John P. McNulty ’74, a beloved former University Trustee. “These women are a wonderful example to their peers everywhere.”

Nöel earned a full scholarship and an assistantship to study food science at Cornell University; Nguyen will attend Drexel University Medical School; and Southwell will work in the Kids4Kats program at the Devereux Foundation’s Kanner Zoo before eventually returning to Hawk Hill to earn her master’s degree in biology.

The embodiment of John McNulty’s commitment to empowering women, the McNulty Scholars Program is on the leading edge of the University’s efforts to nurture the professional success of women. The result is a “multiplier effect” that will inspire other female students at Saint Joseph’s to strive for leadership positions.

“Being a McNulty Scholar shaped me into the woman I am,” Nöel said. “I see how I’ve grown personally and academically. The McNulty Scholars Program gave me the push to embrace new experiences. Throughout my career, I will strive to be the strong, intelligent and inspiring leader that the McNulty Program encourages.  It would be amazing to be able to come back to SJU one day and tell the younger McNulty Scholars my story.”

McNulty Scholars hone their leadership skills through a powerful combination of mentorship, summer research opportunities, professional internships, a senior capstone experience, networking and professional development.

“The McNulty Scholars are immersed in a challenging learning environment designed to inspire them to seek and assume leadership roles at the top of their professions,” said program director and biology professor Christina King Smith, Ph.D.

Nöel, Nguyen and Southwell made great use of their time as SJU undergraduates. They’ve consistently achieved high academic honors. Their peers and advisors have recognized them with awards for their campus leadership in an array of activities. They’ve served as mentors to other McNulty Scholars and tutors to students who’ve needed assistance. They’ve performed high-level research with faculty mentors, presented papers at international conferences and co-authored journal publications.

“What I love about the program is that it’s not purely academic,” Southwell added. “The different components – mentorship, networking, special events and capstone project – rounded out my educational experience. Through this program, I’ve learned the communication and leadership skills that will translate into whatever I do with my professional career.”

For Nguyen, the McNulty Scholars program helped her gain perspective on her collegiate experience.

“I didn’t want to fly through my classes and just focus on achieving the grades that would get me into med school. I wanted to see the bigger picture,” she said.

Anne Welsh McNulty has committed to partnering with the University to expand the program on a number of levels. This fall, the incoming class of McNulty Scholars will have four women, an increase of one student over the first four cohorts. The program has been expanded to include three McNulty Associates, who receive partial tuition scholarships, and five McNulty Fellows, who gain research experience, leadership training and career development as juniors and seniors.

“It’s amazing to see how brightly the inaugural McNulty Scholars have already blazed a trail in research and medicine; a path almost as brilliant as the ones they have set for themselves going forward on their paths to medical school, graduate research and beyond,” Anne Welsh McNulty added.

With its expansion, the program’s multiplier effect will be growing exponentially, enhancing Saint Joseph’s ability to prepare more deserving, bright young women for leadership roles in the STEM fields.