Crusader for A Cure

Crusader for A Cure

DonnaWhen Donna Lubbers entered Saint Mary's College, she expressed a lofty goal to her chemistry professor, Dr. Dorothy Feigl. “I want to cure cancer,” Lubbers stated.

Now in her second year of the Ph.D. program in medicinal chemistry at the University of Kansas—the number-one ranked school in that field—she found an opportunity to pursue her dream. Lubbers just received the University of Kansas Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship, awarded to “exceptional doctoral students in the sciences, engineering, business, or economics who demonstrate the promise to make significant contributions to their fields of study and society as a whole.” This four-year award consists of an annual $23,000 stipend, full tuition and fees, and a development program.

A biochemistry major and biology and mathematics minor at Saint Mary's, this first-generation college graduate became interested in cancer research in high school when she began babysitting Hannah, a young girl diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. “Hannah participated in a clinical trial—research with the sole purpose of keeping kids alive,” says Lubbers. “Hannah survived, and her life is a testimony to the power of scientific study and progress.” Lubbers realized how important research was in the fight against cancer, and decided to study science so she, too, could make a difference.

“Saint Mary's is one of the few schools in the country to offer a medicinal chemistry course, and that was one of the reasons I had so much success with graduate school interviews,” says Lubbers. “Many Saint Mary's science graduates get into and succeed in top-tier graduate and medical schools because we're very well prepared.”