Class of 2026
“Being here has made me love my decision to go to a women’s college. I have never experienced such a friendly atmosphere, in which I feel safe and heard. Everyone here really supports each other, and it is such a warm and welcoming environment,” says Giovanna Sodano ’26.
Giovanna was the winner of Cedar Crest’s 13th Annual Scholarship Competition, which earned her a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the College. She had competed against more than 80 students from 14 different states at the event held in February 2022.
The competition involves a three-hour exam covering various subjects and an interview portion for the top five finalists. “When my name was called as one of the top five finalists, I was in shock,” she says. “Later, when I got the phone call from President Meade saying that I had won, I couldn’t believe it. I felt like all of my hard work had finally paid off. Winning a full-tuition scholarship is something that rarely happens.”
Originally from Naples, Italy, Giovanna attended Peekskill High School in New York where she was active in clubs and was a member of several honor societies. Now a Cedar Crest student, Giovanna studies genetic engineering and conducts independent research on campus with Dr. Richard Kliman, professor of biology and director of the Biology and Genetics & Counseling Psychology Programs. She has been working with Kliman on sequencing genes of spotted lanternflies, an invasive insect that has spread throughout Pennsylvania.
“This experience has been really exciting because it has helped me get a sense of what I will expect from my research and my career in the future,” says Giovanna, who hopes to one day earn her Ph.D. and become a professor.
In addition to her classes and research, Giovanna has been enjoying Cedar Crest’s beautiful campus — pointing to the gazebo as a favorite spot to read and enjoy nature — as well as the women’s college experience.
Looking to her college journey ahead, Giovanna is excited to learn all that she can from her professors, determine her future career in genetic engineering, and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences, such as the Sophomore Expedition to Dublin, Ireland.
“Winning the Scholarship Competition for me meant that my hard work was being recognized. Now being in college, it reminds me to work hard and that I am here for a reason and am part of a supportive community,” she concludes.