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Gates Millennium Scholarship Goes to Doctoral Student in Motor Learning and Control Program

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Gates Millennium Scholarship Goes to Doctoral Student in Motor Learning and Control Program

Laurel Daniels Abbruzzese

Laurel Daniels Abbruzzese, a doctoral student in the Motor Learning and Control Program was awarded the Gates Millennium Scholarship (GMS)-a merit-based award for high-achieving students from low-income minority families.

"I am honored to be a GMS recipient. It has allowed me to pursue my doctorate full-time without taking out additional loans or working part-time. The award considers the cost of tuition, fees, books and living expenses, and supplements any existing resources. I would encourage any and all eligible students to take advantage of this opportunity," said Abbruzzese.

The GMS Program was created with a grant of private money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The program is administered by the United Negro College Fund, in partnership with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the American Indian College Fund.

The program aims to encourage and support students in completing college or continuing on to earn master's and doctoral degrees in disciplines where ethnic and racial groups are currently underrepresented: engineering, mathematics, science, education or library science.

There were 62,000 applicants for the 2000-2001 academic year. The typical scholarship finalist had a grade-point average of between 3.7 and 3.8. These students also need to demonstrate leadership skills, involvement in their communities, and financial need. The group of finalists included 1,364 incoming freshmen, 2,542 continuing undergraduates, and 200 graduate students.

Abbruzzese, who received her master's degree in physical therapy from Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, is interested in geriatrics and is researching and writing her dissertation on how older persons control their balance as they do functional activities-particularly, the reaching task.

"Ultimately, I would like to do research on ways to intervene with a person with balance dysfunction and optimize ways of treating patients with balance disorders. But first there still needs to be a lot of work done about why older people have difficulty with their balance," said Abbruzzese.

She is also the Coordinator of the Clinical Traineeship Program for students in the Movement Science. The purpose of the program is to integrate graduate study in the Movement Sciences with clinical practice in physical or occupational therapy.

Though busy with her academic responsibilities, Abbruzzese is also a mentor with Columbia College's Students of Color and is a fund-raiser for her high school's alumni fund. "It's important to me to be involved in the community as much as it is to be a strong scholar."

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