New PhRMA Scholars program provides support to exceptional college-bound DC students

In partnership with Minds Matter DC, the PhRMA Scholars program aims to help high achieving students from low-income backgrounds in the Washington, D.C. community cover costs associated with attending college or university.

“Minds Matter DC is an all-volunteer, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to connect driven and determined students from low-income families with the people, preparation, and possibilities to succeed in college, create their future and change the world,” said David Ford, chair of the Minds Matter DC Board of Directors. “We are so grateful for PhRMA’s generosity and its initiative to bring greater opportunity to our students; Minds Matter DC will benefit immensely from PhRMA’s thoughtful leadership on educational-equity issues.”

On average, Minds Matter students get 85% of their tuition needs met through federal and local grants, school aid, scholarships and loans. Unfortunately, the remaining 15% of tuition costs can be a significant barrier to accessing and affording a college education. Through the PhRMA Scholars program, this financial gap will decrease and ensure that remarkable students from the community can benefit from their college education.

“When we renewed our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, we pledged to increase access to opportunities and resources for underrepresented populations, specifically communities of color,” said Yolanda Hutchins, PhRMA’s deputy vice president of human resources. “We are honored to be part of these students’ exceptional academic journey. PhRMA Scholars will help increase diverse representation within our universities, colleges, workforce and potentially our industry. For us, it’s about access and opportunity, affording all the ability to thrive.”

A minimum of two $4,000 scholarships will be awarded on an annual basis to students in the Minds Matter DC program who have demonstrated academic excellence, financial need and a commitment to bettering themselves and the world around them.

Meet the 2021 PhRMA Scholars:

Asia will attend New York University where she plans to study neurology. Her dream is to become a neuroscientist. Asia has been playing piano since the age of 11 and sings in her church choir. She has one older sister and lives with her father and grandmother. In her free time, Asia is learning sign language and enjoys cheerleading and playing softball.



Vivian will attend George Mason University where she plans to study mechanical engineering. Vivian was born in Nigeria and immigrated with her parents as a child. While at first she struggled to grasp the American culture, Vivian honed her patience and persistence during the difficult transition. Vivian hopes to use her engineering degree to open her own business one day. In her free time, she enjoys journalism, dancing, writing poetry and lyrics, singing and photography.


Zannat graduated first in her class from Theodore Roosevelt High School and will attend Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service. As an immigrant from Bangladesh, Zannat has witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by families who leave their home countries in search of better opportunities. Zannat plans to become a lawyer working on issues related to immigration and equity. In her free time, she enjoys painting, reading and watching anime.



Jocelyn will attend Trinity Washington University where she plans to study psychology. Jocelyn, the oldest daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, plays a major role in caring for her siblings and cousins. In high school, Jocelyn was the point guard and captain of the varsity basketball team, successfully balancing these responsibilities with her academic studies and part-time job. In her free time, Jocelyn enjoys writing and performing music.


Each year, Minds Matter DC accepts a small number of high-achieving, underprivileged sophomore students from the DC area to provide mentoring, SAT tutoring, and access to summer college preparation programs.

To learn more about PhRMA’s work to improve diversity, equity and inclusion please go to

Rachel Weissman, Director, Policy and Research at PhRMA and Minds Matter Class of 2021 Program Director

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