Biotechnology Magnet Academy student DeMarcell Frierson named Gates Scholar

Biotechnology Magnet Academy at Southwood High School senior DeMarcell Frierson has been named a 2022 Gates Scholar. The Gates Scholarship is highly selective with more than 37,000 applicants this year. Frierson is one of 300 students nationwide selected to be a part of this prestigious group. Scholars receive funding for the full cost to attend college that is not already covered by other financial sources.

The Gates Scholar program is designed for outstanding minority high school seniors from low-income families and is designed to help students reach their maximum potential at college and to continue to excel as leaders throughout their lives. Each student must show academic achievement and commitment.

Frierson is the top-ranked student in his graduating class and scored a 27 on his ACT. At Southwood, he was student council president, a member of the National Honor Society and a member of the National Beta Club. Frierson also spent a semester as a BioStart Research Internship Program intern under the guidance of Dr. Yunfeng Zhao at LSU Health Shreveport, where he studied glucose metabolism and its effects on the UCP2 protein, specifically in cancer cells.

Frierson plans to study pre-med at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge with the goal of becoming a neonatologist.

Other BioStart and Biotechnology Magnet Academy student success stories include:

-Haylee Davis was also a BioStart intern. She was accepted to 10 colleges with many scholarship offers. Davis decided to attend Louisiana Tech University to be on the powerlifting team, and she will study biomedical engineering. This summer, she will work with Dr. Christopher Pattillo at LSU Health Shreveport in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology.

-Caleb Taylor was accepted into LSU’s Ogden Honors College, which is for high-achieving students. Taylor was Southwood High School’s Student of the Year and the team captain and lead programmer for the Regional Autonomous Robotics Competition. He was also co-captain and electrical and programming lead for the FIRST Robotics Competition.

-Siniya Edwards received a full scholarship to Centenary College in Shreveport. She was also offered a full-tuition scholarship to Texas A&M University, worth approximately $160,000, but is choosing to keep her talents local. She will pursue a biomedical science degree.

This year, 32 of the 36 Biotech seniors were accepted into a two-year or four-year college. Other seniors have chosen a military or alternative post-secondary experience.

BRF helped launch the Biotechnology Magnet Academy and BioStart programs in 2006 and 2009, respectively, in conjunction with the Caddo Parish School Board, LSU Health Shreveport, LSU Shreveport, participating biotech companies, and Southwood High School. The four-year academy enrolls more than 200 students, many of whom are female, minorities, and first- generation college bound.

Generous donors to BRF who have recently contributed to supporting students in STEM through these programs include: 2021 and 2022 Give for Good Donors, Community Foundation of North Louisiana – William C. Woolf Fund, Louisiana Department of Revenue, Regions Foundation, CenterPoint Energy, and the Poindexter Foundation.