May 5, 2004 — Yeshiva College junior David Kastner acknowledges that having a triple major is unconventional. However, his interest in literature, chemistry, and biology has steered him on a unique college pathway – and led him to a Barry M. Goldwater scholarship.
Mr. Kastner, 22, of Teaneck, NJ, became an avid reader in high school, enjoying discussions on books he read with his English teacher at Frisch Yeshiva High School in Paramus, NJ.
“I started reading Stephen King, which turned into George Orwell, which turned into William Faulkner,” he said. “But I was always a math and science guy because it came easier to me.”
In March, Kastner received the Goldwater scholarship – one of 310 recipients throughout the United States – granted to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. The scholarship covers the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.
Mr. Kastner entered Yeshiva College as an English major considering a minor in chemistry, with plans to become a physician. During the summer of 2002, he worked as a lab assistant at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in Tarrytown, NY, an experience that solidified an interest in research.
The following summer he conducted research at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and with only one or two courses left to complete the chemistry major, Kastner decided to go for it – as well as for a third major in biology to help his chances in being accepted to an MD/PhD program.
But in addition to a heavy workload, Mr. Kastner volunteers for YC’s Literacy Program as a tutor at a local elementary school. He even created a Web site, www.aidingliteracy.com, to assist adults in encouraging children to read. Mr. Kastner also sits on the academic standards committee and the student senate, and is a member of Sigma Delta Rho, the science honors society.
Mr. Kastner plans to research neurological diseases and pursue medical and doctoral degrees to combine his interests: conducting research and treating patients.
“I was very excited about the scholarship,” he said. “I think it’s another piece to the puzzle for getting into a MD/PhD program.”