Bliss J. Tafolla-Aguirre


Smiling Bliss

Barry Goldwater Scholarship

Majors/Minors: Biochemistry/Forensic Science
College: Natural and Social Sciences
Class of 2022

Name of the Scholarship (and its benefits):

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship is intended to support college sophomores and juniors who show “promise of becoming this nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields.” The financial assistance is up to a maximum of $7500 that can be used to cover the cost of tuition, books, mandatory fees, and room and board. Junior recipients receive 2 semesters of support while sophomore recipients receive 4 semesters of support.

What are your future career goals?

After graduating with my undergraduate degree, I plan to pursue a PhD in Biochemistry or Pharmaceutical sciences. I hope to conduct drug discovery research as a clinical pharmaceutical researcher, primarily focusing on neurodegenerative ailments. Eventually, I plan to teach at the university level, possibly conducting university research or creating and running inclusive programs at my institution.

What motivated you to apply and what were some of the challenges?

 One day, I happened to come across the scholarships list on the NISFEP website, and I instantly recognized that as an undergraduate conducting research, this would be perfect for me to apply to. Still, the very real challenge I faced was my lack of confidence in applying for this prestigious award that so many other students also pursued. Speaking with Jessica and discussing with my two moms really helped me make the effort to dedicate myself towards the application process. I started to realize that I had a story to tell, and that hopefully my passion and ambition would be translated through my writing. I am grateful for the support system I had when applying.

How has this scholarship affected your career goals and ambitions?

Applying to this scholarship gave me the much need opportunity to reorganize my short-term and long-term goals. It had been a while since I committed myself to outlining the future that I wanted for myself but applying to this scholarship helped me do just that. I was able to write down all the motivating factors that pushed me into research, and what impact I hoped that my current and future research would have. It was refreshing to be able to see my true self reflected in the writing. I was able to recognize the things I have accomplished and the many things I still have to do.

What is a cause you’re passionate about? Is this cause related to your career goals?

As someone who has life-threatening allergies, I have experienced the expensive burden comes from not having health insurance. I feel that individuals should not have to worry about not being able to afford their necessary medications or therapeutics. Therefore, in the research I plan to conduct (focused on drug discovery + development), I hope to uncover ways to make affordable and effective therapies for ailing individuals. This is the main driving force behind my research interests.

What advice would you give to future applicants of this scholarship or any scholarship?

My advice to future applicants of this scholarship or any scholarship is to be true to yourself. I know that can sound a bit cliché, but it is difficult to feel like you are good enough to catch the attention of people who come across many individuals who could be just as talented or passionate as you are. That is why it is important to realize that just by being you, you are automatically good enough, but it doesn’t hurt to explore yourself further. I advise that you really dig deep and discover what it is that you want from life and what are the goals that you have for your future. It is by discovering and outlining your ambitions that you will come across as a confident and motivated applicant. Those are very valuable traits to have and showcase in applications.

What would people be surprised to know about you?  

For people that do not know me very well, I have four adorable cats. Fredo, my tabby cat, is the eldest (4 yrs old). Chicken, my ragdoll, is the second oldest (3 yrs old). Dylan and Benji are my youngest tuxedo cat twins (1 yrs old). I love them all dearly and I appreciate how different they are from each other. If you do not have a cat and you want one, I highly recommend that you adopt from shelters, because there are a lot of loving cats in need of loving homes.

Any other information you would like to mention or include that wasn’t asked here:

I would like to express how grateful I am to the foundations that present these types of awards to students, encouraging and presenting a dedication to inclusion and diversity, including the Barry Goldwater Foundation. There are so many opportunities out there and it feels great to find those that really believe in you!

For more information on The Barry Goldwater Scholarship:
Contact Jessica (Cal State LA representative for Goldwater & NISFeP Coordinator) at [email protected]