Hometown: Opalocka, FL
high school: Hialeah Miami Lakes HS
college: Howard University
Born in Miami, Florida, Jaquesta grew up in the city of Opa-Locka. Raised by a single mother, she was instilled with the belief that education and hard work were integral to success. As a result, she worked diligently in high school to excel in her academic and extracurricular participation. She graduated from Hialeah Miami-Lakes Senior High School as valedictorian of her class, a weekly volunteer at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and a member of several clubs and sports. In addition to being the president of the Science National Honor Society and vice-president of the National Honor Society, she participated in Model UN, Project Citizen, DECA, Varsity Tennis, and Varsity Soccer. Some of her most memorable experiences were participating in SECME and the Fairchild Challenge, qualifying for DECA States, and successfully passing a state policy with Project Citizen.
Jaquesta is now a rising senior majoring in chemistry and minoring in math and biology at Howard University. Upon matriculating, she was unsure of what direction she wished to take her studies. It was not until her first research opportunity that her goals became clear. As a rising sophomore, she began participating in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program and performed summer research in the lab of Howard professor Dr. Dharmaraj Raghavan. This experience inspired her to pursue a career in research. Since then, she has contributed to the development of biodegradable orthopedic implants, self-assembled DNA drug delivery vehicles, and neuron-like neural probes. Currently, as a member of the Clayborne Research Group at Howard University, she performs simulations at the interface of chemistry and biology.
When she is not in class or in the lab, Jaquesta enjoys engaging in service and outreach. She is vice-president of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, secretary of the Beta Kappa Chi Honor Society, and a member of the American Chemical Society. She enjoys giving research seminars and talking to high school and underclassmen students about STEM and higher education, assisting students applying for colleges and scholarships, and volunteering with the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science. She also enjoys tutoring chemistry, mentoring students, and writing about her experience in STEM.
Jaquesta is grateful that her collegiate experiences have enabled her to become a Goldwater Scholar, American Chemical Society Scholar, and Chemistry, Math, and Physics Scholar. After graduation, she plans to earn her PhD, complete postdoctoral training, and become a professor at a research institution. Ultimately, she hopes to contribute to the development of biotechnology that enables less invasive, more effective treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.