FAST Scholars



  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Major in Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, or Physics
  • Classified as economically disadvantaged according to the Department of Education rules for need-based federal financial aid


Continuance Requirements

  • Make good progress toward completing undergraduate degree in four years
  • Maintain a 3.3 GPA in both science and non-science coursework


students in biology lab


student in chemistry lab


atomic resolution microscope


Megan Aguiar
Megan Aguiar (2017)

Major: Physics

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Throughout my life, my interests were of mostly science and music. I would sneak large meteorology books in my desk and sing whenever it was possible. In middle school, however, music seemed to hold most of my interest, until one day an article in science class sparked my curiosity to look at what was beyond the clouds of Earth. My friend presented an article about the rotation of black holes which led me to be intellectually curious about space. Choir was still prominent in my life, but I never let go of my curiosity of the cosmos. I would do research and read articles in my spare time on everything between the mysteries of the universe to the particle physics that took place with the Large Hadron Collider. Before class, I would have conversations with my physics teacher about black holes and the current theories surrounding such objects which led him to encourage me to do physics in the future. I became so immersed in learning about space that I read books and watched documentaries on what science has discovered and what it has yet to discover. I have always wanted to do hands on work instead of depending my knowledge solely on articles that other scientists have done. While doing hands on work, I am hoping to form a path of my own in testing theories and make discoveries like the astronomers and physicists who came before me. I would also love to invest in the future of humanity by working to get mankind to walk on another celestial object called Mars. When I was emailed about FAST and the benefits that come with the program, I found it to be a great opportunity to do hands on work while getting mentored on how I can achieve my ultimate career goal. Now that I have been given this rare opportunity to invest in my future, I will take full advantage of what they have offered me and I will work very hard to keep this opportunity open to me. I’m excited that I get to start my very first year of college with such great opportunities open to me.

Desiree Anderson
Desiree Anderson (2017)

Major: Microbiology and Immunology

Born on July 20th, 1999, Colin and Deonna Anderson, were welcomed with one of their most prized blessings and named her Desiree’ Divine Anderson. I was born in Beaufort, South Carolina and remained there until the age of 5 and then moved to the thirsty deserts of El Paso, Texas. While in high school, I had the opportunity to involve myself in many activities at El Dorado High school. I was also able to join and become a member of Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), obtain a position as Corresponding Secretary of Top Teens of America El Paso Chapter, and Vice President of the National Honor Society. Lastly, as one of my most prized accomplishments, I stand as the 2017 Miss Black El Paso. Now while attending the University of Texas San Antonio, I intend to engage in several academic enriching programs throughout these four years. Studying intently in my science degree, I wait to see what the future holds for me.

Daniela Campos
Daniela Campos (2018)

Major: Biology

My curiosity started as a young girl when I wondered what made my father’s heart stop so suddenly. This led to an appreciation of medical professionals doing everything in a life and death situation. I aspired to work in such an exhilarating environment; furthermore, this experience led to an interest in what actually caused a patient to end up in the hospital. My questions then progressed to what I wonder as an older woman: the effects of microbes on humans, how we will cure threatening diseases, and what could be done if all sciences come together to find these answers. I have participated in Rising Researchers which essentially led to a deeper understanding on research. The summer of my freshman year was spent working with Johns Hopkins as a TA applying chemistry and biology to forensics in the laboratory setting. In my current term time employment at the Physics and Astronomy Department, I have witnessed the almost natural linkage between biology and physics research. I have benefited greatly from the guidance provided by professors in the physics and biology departments. At this moment, I’m inclined to believe that medical research is my passion. I am pursuing a degree in Biology and aspire to go into an MD - PhD program. As a FAST scholar, I want to work at the junction of all sciences and use my expanding knowledge to open new doors in my career as a physician/researcher.

Javier Contreras
Javier Contreras (2017)

Major: Biology

My name is Javier Contreras and I was born on September 26, 1998 where I grew up in the small town of Weslaco, Texas located in the Rio Grande Valley. I was raised in a small home with my mother and two sisters, where I then attended Weslaco High School. Throughout my life I was constantly involved with sports however was always intrigued about the topic of Science. Regardless of many setbacks, I have continued to keep a constant goal in mind of being successful throughout my life to further motivate me in continuing my education at UTSA. Coming from such a small town I believe many are born with a mindset of being complacent with what they have and where they live however, personally I believe there are greater things for me out in this world. This mindset has led me to attend UTSA and experience the different cultures and lifestyles while attending the diverse campus therefore I truly am excited to see what the future holds for me.

Renee Delgado
Renee Delgado (2018)

Major: Chemistry

My name is Renee Delgado. I am a 3rd year Chemistry major, with a strong belief that knowledge is power! My dedication interest in chemistry took root when I found myself in a lab setting, being able to observe the patterns of nature and the potential that Supra Molecular Chemistry has on our quality of life and the benefit of human kind. However outside of my education, I enjoy cups of coffee in the morning out on the patio, taking long road trips, puzzles, watering my plants and creating science influenced abstract paintings, such as: The double helix, carbon rings, sound waves, bacteria under a microscope and human anatomy.

Diego Fausett
Diego Fausett (2015)

Major: Physics

I was born in Lubbock, Texas, though I spent much of my childhood in Presidio, Texas. While I was in junior high school, my family moved to Comstock. I attended Comstock High School and graduated in May 2015. Over the course of my high school career, I played basketball, ran in track & field, participated in theater, and competed as team captain in University Interscholastic League Academic Science Competition, where I placed first in state in 1A Conference and was top chemistry scorer as well. I attribute this personal accomplishment to my self-directed study of physics and chemistry college introductory texts as well as the fact that I kept an indexed work journal. However, I did not do this for the sake of achieving first in state. Rather, I did it because I wanted to know more. The desire to know forms the foundation of who I am — to know more stories, more knowledge, more everything. It is for that reason that I love to read, why I love the sciences, why I’ve never, even as a child, seriously considered a career outside the sciences. And lastly, it is why I aspire to be a researcher.

Andrew Hernandez
Andrew Hernandez (2017)

Major: Physics

I was born in Boise, Idaho, but grew up in Brownsville, Texas, a small town on the tip of Texas, near the U.S/Mexican border. I struggled in math most of elementary and middle school. It was not till high school where things started making sense for me. With this newly acquired understanding I become fascinated with math, which intrigued me to the subject of Physics. I find it fascinating that the world can be represented with equations and how understanding these equations gives people a different perspective on how the world works. I want to someday solve some of science's big problems such as closing the gap between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. I like to observe the world and see connections between things. If something happens I want to know why it happens and analyze any patterns that might exist. I hope by being part of the FAST Scholars Program to have a clearer path in order to achieve my goals.

Daniel Hinojosa
Daniel Hinojosa (2015)

Major: Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering

I was born and raised in Zapata, Texas, a small border town with a rich history in oil production and industries. Being brought up in a small community with a population shy of 10,000 is an excellent way to raise a child, and I'm glad to come from a place where I was carefully fostered. I am an only child; I can assure that my parents did their job and I appreciate the time they spent on me. I have a profound sense of doing great things in my own lifetime and UTSA will be my new home where my personal journey starts. Before high school, I was an average student at the very least, but upon entering grade 9, I joined cross country and formed bonds with a team for the first time in my life and since then I have developed a habit of running regularly. I was the 2015 Zapata High School Senior Class President and that position tested my responsibilities as a leader. The people I met throughout high school shaped me into what I am now and part of my persistent and dedicated personality is derived from over 700 hours of training for running competitions. I've learned to apply myself through this training and somewhere along the line I found my aptitude for the sciences. In my attempt to discover the mechanisms of this physical world I have the fortune of interacting in, I will venture into unfamiliar waters waiting to be discovered. I plan to pursue a degree in Chemistry, and although I still don't know what I am getting myself into, I am committed to doing great work for the benefit of my species and all that we've ever done.

Triet Huynh
Triet Huynh (2017)

Major: Biology

I was born in a small town in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States around the age of 10. In order to learn the language, I pursued poetry and writing, which are currently my favorite hobbies. As a result, I developed an appreciation for language and the ways in which people communicate with one another. Over the course of my education, I participated in a variety of competitions and organizations regarding the subjects of music, philosophy, poetry, mathematics, and science. These experiences have provided me with many different perspectives regarding people and the world around us. However, the area that caught my interest the most was science. My curiosity was further heightened after taking a class that introduced me to the basis, source, and limitation of knowledge within the Natural Sciences. The most attractive aspect of science is that knowledge is always expanding, only limited by the tools and technology that we use to gather data. Therefore, I am pursuing my degree in biology in order to test the limits of the sciences, and contributing to the expanding knowledge of the field. As a FAST scholar, I hope of coming across opportunities to research and incorporate what I will be learning to create positive change.

Angelo Lomeli
Angelo Lomeli (2017)

Major: Physics

I was born near Los Angeles, California yet spent the majority of my life here in San Antonio. As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, though that quickly changed when my sister told me how dangerous it would be to live outside of Earth’s atmosphere. A star gazer at heart, I couldn’t just abandon space. I started buying, renting or borrowing any book about astronomy and other sciences that I could get my small elementary hands on. It wasn’t until middle school when I watched Nova, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, that I discovered physics. I was instantly fascinated. I found something that combined two of my favorite things math and science. From then on I learned all that I could, preparing myself for my future career. When I heard about the FAST program I was ecstatic. I had an opportunity to learn from mentors and their experiences with in the field, and I couldn’t be anymore grateful.

Hasan Mukati
Hasan Mukati (2017)

Major: Biology

I was born in Kissimmee, Florida, on June 18th, 1998 to a close-knit family of six. My siblings and I were fortunate enough to experience the environments and cultures of many people through my father’s occupation and his love for travel. Wherever we moved or traveled to, my parents made sure to give us the best of education and helped us in assimilating with the environment and the location’s traditions. However, some experiences of the places I lived in and traveled to still linger in my mind. I have seen the emaciated faces of kids begging for money on the street corners of few countries such as Pakistan, Jordan, Palestine and South Africa. I have seen poor African workers lined up outside a hospital emergency room in South Africa waiting for a doctor to arrive; later to find out that there was no vaccine or help for them as their occupation prevented them from certain vaccines and cures. Through the FAST program I hope to change some of these circumstances and create more opportunities for myself. With the help of Fast I hope to garner enough knowledge in science and research to help people in my home town and around the world.

Meghan Pairett
Meghan Pairett (2015)

Major: Chemistry

As a young child, I was very fascinated about the world around me, and I would often read many captivating books about space and dinosaurs in elementary school. Growing up, I always enjoyed attending science class because I would learn something interesting every day, and the labs I participated in were always fun and exciting. I enjoy learning new ideas and concepts, and I have done well with my schooling, especially in high school. I ranked ninth out of over two hundred students in my graduating class at Floresville High School, and I gained wonderful knowledge about many concepts in our world. I am excited to further my education at the University of Texas at San Antonio and I plan to major in Chemistry, with hope to help better my community by becoming involved with medicine or pharmaceuticals.

Zachary Petrowski
Zachary Petrowski (2017)

Major: Microbiology and Immunology

Although born in the city of Albuquerque NM, I can truthfully say that I have been a Texan all my life. At a young age, we moved to the Texas hill country to the little rural town of Comfort. Here, I spent my youth enjoying the outdoors and ultimately studying and playing football through 8th grade. I loved my time here, but our family needed another change. Thus, we moved to the big city of San Antonio! My mom, being a teacher in NISD, encouraged me to to apply to Health Careers HS, a rigorous magnet school focused on the pursuit of academics pertaining to science and medicine. Here, my passion for science ultimately peaked in a Microbiology class offered senior year. I became intrigued with everything pertaining to bacteria, viruses, etc. and as such it is only natural for me to continue following this passion. So, I applied to UTSA ,eager to learn and participate in its exciting and bountiful courses...most importantly microbiology!

Nhi Pham
Nhi (Kaylee) Pham (2018)

Major: Biology

A beautiful snow baby, Nhi Tuyet Pham, is what my name means in Vietnamese. Kaylee Pham is also me. I was known as Kaylee since I moved to the United States three years ago. I was born in Vietnam, a stunning gorgeous country. In my memory, my childhood was such an unforgettable time when I had a lot of chances to discover my small world and developed in my own way. As an Asian parent, my mom is always strict on my education, which have been motivating me to grow up and study successfully. I knew that I was born for Science since I was five. I enjoyed working on math problems and always tried to find more math to do by myself. I was accepted to one of the best schools, Tran Dai Nghia High School for the Gifted. I had a chance to learn more leadership skills by being a member and a co-leader of Community Group in Hoa Phuong Do Campaign. Our mission was to help our community and create events for kids during summer time. More than that, this place nourished my passion for Biology, especially in Medicine and Pharmacy. Transferred to Claudia Taylor Johnson High School, I learned a lot of interesting things from American education. I am a luckiest person when I have received a lot of support from my family, Johnson high school teachers and UTSA professors. They are my motivation to improve myself day by day. My career goal is to become a Research Pharmacist or Pharmaceutical Scientist, which I can work and research on future medicine. As a sophomore of UTSA, UTSA has given me a lot of opportunities to enhance my academic education and leadership. I love playing badminton and learning new languages. I am trying to learn Chinese and Spanish, while speaking fluently in Vietnamese and English. Additionally, I enjoy volunteering to help people and community. My current goal is to learn more about immunology and pharmacology in this year to have a good understanding and be able to join in a research at UTSA. It is my honor to be a part of UTSA FAST Program. As a FAST scholar, I hope that I can use all the opportunities from the program effectively and make more friends who have the same passion with me.

Cynthia Rodriguez
Cynthia Rodriguez (2015)

Major: Biology

Growing up, I always had a natural curiosity of how life worked. I wanted to know why I was breathing, why the grass was green and what exactly separated me from other living creatures. For as long as I can remember, I would sit in my front porch and observe how insects and animals interacted with their environment; I was always left in awe no matter how many times I would do this. For this reason, I am very passionate about studying science, biology to be more specific, so that I can get the answers to the questions that I have about the natural world. I consider myself a very driven person, spontaneous, and not to mention stubborn, in a good way though. I grew up in the city of Brownsville, TX next to the U.S.-Mexico Border, whose education system, sadly, does not compare to that of more prestigious school districts. Regardless, I feel confident in my abilities to excel as a student and, God willing, to excel in pursuing a career as a Zoologist.

Erin Shiar
Erin Shiar (2018)

Major: Biology

I was born and raised in Spring, Texas where I graduated from Klein Collins High School at the top percentage of my class and concluded as the president of HOSA. I’ve always been interested in science and thought about becoming a doctor in the field of endocrinology ever since elementary school. I think my love for science stemmed from being diagnosed with type I diabetes at the age of two and celiac disease at the age of ten because I wanted to better understand the diseases and help others simultaneously! I changed my mind shortly after the fall semester of my freshman year of college, and I’ve now decided to pursue scientific research instead. When I found out about the FAST program, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to excel in science and reach towards my goals. I’m excited to see what lies ahead!

Noah Slagle
Noah Slagle (2017)

Major: Biology

Hello! My name is Noah Slagle and I am a sophomore transfer student here at UTSA. I did my first year as a freshman at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. I am originally from Los Angeles, California but moved to San Antonio when I was young and consider myself a proud Texan! I have lived the majority of my life here in San Antonio and I am employed in the education department at the San Antonio Zoo, so I am very excited to now be attending school here as well. I have been interested in science, specifically biology, since a young age and am super excited to explore this subject as a member of the FAST program.

Calantha Thompson
Calantha Thompson (2016)

Major: Biochemistry

I was born in Galveston, Texas, where I graduated from Ball Preparatory Academy High. My passion for Biochemistry derived from an intensive want and strive to cure the sick. It all started at the age of ten when I attended Ambassadors Preparatory Academy. My science teacher would always insist that in order for us to go outside for recess, one must answer a national scientific trivia question. I began to learn so much about science at such a young age that I fell completely in love with it. I would stay late in class to seek and learn more; I guess you can say I was definitely science hungry! I participated in my very first annual science fair in my 5th grade year, with no partners. That year I won 2nd place, and the following year I won 1st place throughout the entire school for my Hot Ice science fair project. My drive in science didn’t stop there as I continued on in High School, winning 2nd place my 11th grade year for my project The Sugar Solution. This project then lead me to participate in the Galveston county science fair, where I won 3rd place and qualified for the Texas state science fair in Houston. Regardless of my accomplishments, I’ve decided to go even further. I am planning on acquiring my Master’s Degree as a Biochemist and minoring in Biomedical Engineering, proceeding on to a Ph.D. I want to also one day have my very own productive laboratory. I am completely astonished to be able to start this goal at The University of Texas at San Antonio! Through faith and abundance anything is possible, here’s my start.