ASU alumna shares med school experience with fellow Porter Scholars


Amber (Harlan) Price, one of Adams State University's first Porter Scholars, returned to her alma mater in November to address the current group of Porter Scholars. The Porter Scholars program provides assistance and expanded educational opportunities to outstanding students in science and mathematics.

A graduate of Monte Vista High School, Price is in her second year at Creighton University Medical School in Omaha, Neb., having earned a B.S. in cellular and molecular biology from Adam State in 2012.

2013-14 Porter Scholars

The Porter Scholars Program was created in 2007 by the largest gift in the university's history: 250,000 shares in E*TRADE Financial Corporation worth $5.8 million. William and Joan Porter made the donation specifically to help mathematics and science majors "on the basis of their need and their ongoing academic achievement." Mr. Porter earned a degree in mathematics from Adams State in 1951. He is chairman emeritus and founder of E*TRADE and founder of the International Securities Exchange.

At November's dinner for this year's Porter Scholars and science & mathematics faculty, Price described the rigors of medical school and talked about her career aspirations. Medical school is a "completely different world," she said, noting she averages a 110-hour week, between classes, research, and study. "I have friends in doctoral programs and dental school - it's all hard, but you can adapt. Have faith that Adams State has prepared you really well. The best advice I could give you is to work your butt off; it pays off."

With her sights set on becoming an orthopedic surgeon, Price also fulfills her interest in genetics by doing research at Children's Hospital in Omaha, where she works with children afflicted with osteogenesis imperfecta, or "brittle bone disease."

"Attending Adams State is probably the best decision I've ever made," she said. "The opportunities I had to do research as a Porter Scholar were key to getting into med school."

This year's group of seventeen Porter Scholars includes 8 students from the San Luis Valley:

  • Ryan Miller is a Sanford H.S. graduate majoring in cellular and molecular biology. The son of Jason and Melanie Miller, he hopes to enter dental school. He tutors at Center H.S. and received a Valedictorian Scholarship.
  • Jason Roth, of Romeo, attended William J. Palmer H.S. He is a geology major who participates in the Geo Club and student government.
  • Jacob Smith, of Blanca, Colo., attended Branson School online. The son of Arlo and Suzanne Smith, he is a geology major and received additional academic scholarships. He participates in the ASU Climbing Team, Geo Cub, the Lost & Found Improv Troupe, and takes guitar lessons.
  • Casey Veneman is majoring in computer science and received additional academic scholarships. He is the son of Scott and Kellie Veneman.

The following are graduates of Alamosa H.S.:

  • Ben Goldsworthy is majoring in math/physics, with the goal of becoming an engineer. The son of Mike and Cindy Goldsworthy, he also received the Donald H. Hopper Memorial Scholarship, Moe Morris Scholarship, Lorraine Young Memorial Scholarship, Vernon Lantis Scholarship, and Kroger Scholarship. He is active in ACME (Adams State Computer Science Mathematics & Engineering Club), and at the Zacheis Planetarium.
  • Baily Keller is a freshman chemistry major, the daughter of Karl and Bonnie Keller.
  • Twin brothers Darin and Drake Sisneros are majoring in cellular and molecular biology with the goal of becoming family practice physicians. The sons of John Sisneros and Rhoda Romero, both also received the San Luis Valley Federal Bank scholarship. Both are members of the ASU cycling team, Tri-Beta (Biology Honor Society), and conduct independent research. Darin also volunteers as a wrestling coach for Alamosa High School and is a chemistry teaching assistant.
  • Kelli Williams is pre-med major who plans to become a family physician or anesthesiologist. The daughter of Norman and Janet Williams, she belongs to Tri-Beta and also received a GEAR-Up Scholarship.

Additional Porter Scholars for 2013-14 include:

  • Tavia Carlson, a physical geography major from Flagstaff, Ariz.
  • Casey Chaney, a wildlife biology major from Penrose, Colo.
  • Nicole Engler, from Socorro, New Mex., has a double major in biochemistry and biology.
  • Gia Johnson, a math/physics major from Firestone, Colo.
  • Raul Sanchez, a mathematics major from Alliance, Neb. * Mikaela Schmidt, a biology major from Centennial, Colo.
  • Summer Shannon, a cellular & molecular biology major from Pueblo West, Colo.
  • Keiko Woodyard, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., majoring in cellular & molecular biology.

Dr. Matt Nehring, professor of physics and chair of the Department of Chemistry, Computer Science and Mathematics, noted: "The Porter Scholars program serves as an important recruiting tool for our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs, and also provides much needed financial assistance to excellent students in math and science."

All Porter Scholars have special academic opportunities, including focused academic programs off campus, independent study, and research on advanced topics. Recent student projects have included work on DNA, overseas ecology studies, and programs in sustainability, Nehring said.

In addition, the program awards Porter Scholarships to students with unmet financial need, as calculated through the financial aid process. To qualify as Porter Scholars, upperclassmen must achieve a GPA of 3.0 in math and science courses, and 3.0 overall, while new students are selected based on a combination of grades and ACT/SAT scores.

By Julie Waechter