MORGANTOWN -- West Virginia University chemical engineering student Jessica Castillo, a native of Fairmont, has received the prestigious John J. McKetta Scholarship from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The $5,000 scholarship is awarded to only one junior or senior chemical engineering student in the nation each year. Castillo was selected from a pool of hundreds who applied for the scholarship.

"Jessica is an outstanding student both in the classroom and on the job," said Dady Dadyburjor, WVU professor and chair of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. "This was the first year that we nominated a student for the McKetta award. It speaks volumes for Jessica that the selection committee judged her to be the most deserving student in the entire country."

A WVU Foundation Scholar, Castillo participates in the Honors College. She is a member of the student and national chapters of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, president of Omega Chi Epsilon, secretary of the Society of Women Engineers and a member of Tau Beta Pi and WVU's annual Mountaineer Week committee. She also volunteers with Ruby Memorial Hospital and the Linus Project.

Castillo plans to graduate with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in May. She would like to go into the pharmaceutical industry, something she became interested in after an internship at Mylan Pharmaceuticals, where she works in the environmental health and safety department.

"It's an industry that impacts everybody," Castillo said. "I would love to be part of something that can help everyone in the future. I can apply what I like to do with math and science and help people."

Eventually, Castillo said she may pursue a master's in business administration or environmental or industrial engineering.

"I'd like to combine my interests in environmental engineering and pharmaceuticals," she said. "Hazardous waste disposal is expensive. I'd like to find ways to make pharmaceuticals less expensive by dealing with this problem and others."

Castillo credits WVU for her academic and personal success.

"I have received a lot of support from the faculty in my department and in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources," she said. "They have challenged me and helped me to accomplish things that I didn't think I would be able to do. They've helped me to grow in a professional and academic sense. I feel prepared for the future, and I am so happy that I chose WVU."

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