Cynthia Okoye '18 Wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 12, 2018—Williams College senior Cynthia Okoye ’18 has been awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in pharmacology.

Cynthia OkoyeWith the help of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Okoye hopes to continue studying the mechanisms that allow diseases to thrive in the human body and use this knowledge to inform rational drug and therapy design. Okoye is passionate about Africa’s development and views her scholarship as an opportunity to combine her scientific expertise and leadership skills to improve Africa’s place in the scientific world. After she completes her Ph.D., she plans to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship at the Africa Health Research Institute.

Okoye will graduate with a major in chemistry and a concentration in biochemistry and molecular biology. She is currently pursuing an honors thesis in chemistry. Okoye has worked as a research fellow in the pharmacology department at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y., and in the laboratory of malaria and vector research at the National Institute of Health in Rockville, Md. At Williams, she has been a science fellow at Brayton and Greylock Elementary Schools, and an after-school tutor at Mt. Greylock Middle School, as well as a teaching assistant for the dance ensemble Kusika and the co-chair of the Veritas Forum.

“I am excited to conduct drug discovery research at Cambridge and to join a network of scholars committed to positively impacting the world,” Okoye says. “I hope to fulfill this objective through my contributions to the biomedical field. My success so far would not have been possible without the support of colleagues and mentors to whom I am immensely grateful.”

Ninety-two scholarship recipients were selected from a total pool of 5,798 applicants from across the globe on the basis of their intellectual ability, commitment to improving the lives of others, leadership potential and academic fit with Cambridge. “We are delighted with the exceptional quality of applications for the Gates Cambridge program for 2018 entry,” said Professor Barry Everitt, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust. “The Trust has selected 92 excellent Scholars from a wide range of backgrounds to pursue their graduate studies at Cambridge and we very much look forward to welcoming them to Cambridge and the Gates Cambridge community in October.”

Okoye is the tenth senior or recent alumnus from Williams to be named a Gates Cambridge Scholar, following Yue-Yi Hwa ’11, Evelyn Denham ’12, Jose Martinez ’10, Nathan Benaich ’10, Leah Katzelnick ’10, Emily Gladden ’07, Shannon Chiu ’08, Alan Rodrigues ’07, and Shawn Powers ’04.

The scholarships were established in October 2000 with a donation of $210 million to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. To learn more about the Gates Cambridge program, visit


Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.