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Teenage prodigy to receive key to the city in Roanoke

Alena McQuarter obtained her high school, bachelor's and master's degrees by the age of 15

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The City of Roanoke is honoring the remarkable achievements of one of its citizens.

On Tuesday, 15-year-old prodigy and entrepreneur Alena McQuarter will receive a key to the city for her outstanding accomplishments in academia and business.

“We are incredibly proud to have such a talented and driven young individual like Alena as part of our community. Her dedication, intelligence, and entrepreneurial vision inspire us all, and we are honored to recognize her achievements,” said Roanoke Mayor Scooter Geirisch.

Alena graduated high school at age 12 and became the youngest person of color to work as an intern at NASA.

At age 13, she became the youngest African-American ever to be accepted to medical school and the second youngest overall when she enrolled at the University of Alabama Heersink School of Medicine, which offered admission this year through the school's Burroughs Wellcome Scholars Early Assurance Program

For the last two years, Alena has been working toward her master's and bachelor's degrees.

She recently graduated with her master's degree summa cum laude with highest distinction from Arizona State University, where she majored in biology. Concurrently, she obtained her bachelor's, where she graduated summa cum laude, majoring in biomedical sciences with a minor in global health.

Facebook: Alena McQuarter

Looking ahead, Alena will pursue her Ph.D in integrated biomedical sciences this fall at Loma Linda University in California, focusing on infection, immunity, and inflammation. She will then go on to obtain her doctor of medicine.

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Throughout her academic endeavors, Alena also launched The Brown STEM Girl Foundation to provide resources and access to other girls in STEM while encouraging them to pursue careers. Her organization has provided over $100,000 in STEM scholarships locally and abroad and funded mental health care access for college students. 

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