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Incoming doctoral student earns 2022 Graduate Inclusion and Access Scholarship

Image of Mathematics PhD student Sky Ratcliffe
Sky Ratcliffe. Photo provided.

In May, Mason announced the recipients of the 2022 Graduate Inclusion and Access Scholarship for incoming first-generation doctoral students from underrepresented populations. Mathematics PhD student, Sky Ratcliffe, is one of four individuals to earn this scholarship and receive financial support for the upcoming academic year.

Ratcliffe graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2021 with a degree in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. As a participant in St. Lawrence’s highly competitive McNair Scholars Program, Ratcliffe planned early on to pursue their doctorate degree. The McNair Scholars Program aims to increase the number of underrepresented students that pursue doctorate degrees by offering undergraduate research opportunities, application preparation, graduate school visits, and more.

Ratcliffe’s journey to Mason started with an email and an application waiver and continues now with a move to Northern Virginia with two of their closest friends. When an email about the Graduate Inclusion and Access Scholarship hit Ratcliffe’s inbox, she said she was immediately interested. Coming from a low-income household and identifying as nonbinary, Ratcliffe was in search of support geared towards underrepresented groups.

“I had this great support system as an undergrad, but I still felt like a minority, especially as a first-generation student. It was hard to not have someone in the family understand first-hand what I was experiencing or able to talk me through things,” she said.  

Ratcliffe said one their goals for the future is to help individuals with traits that make learning mathematics more difficult. During the year she took off between St. Lawrence and Mason, Ratcliffe spent their time tutoring others in math. While at Mason, Ratcliffe plans to explore a number of research topics ranging from complex analysis to group theory to complex dynamical systems. In their down time, Ratcliffe loves to listen to music, create art, and play Dungeons and Dragons with friends. She will start classes in the fall.