Receiving the Churchill Scholarship is an honor bestowed upon a very select cohort of college students from across the U.S. The University of New Mexico’s Esteban Abeyta, a senior biochemistry major and honors minor, can now count himself as one of the scholarship’s elite.

The Churchill Scholarship was awarded to Abeyta for one year of master’s study at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge. The award covers full tuition, a stipend, travel costs, and the chance to apply for a $2,000 special research grant. 

The Scholarship was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill in order to fulfil his vision of US-UK scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic. The award is extremely competitive and has been called the most academically rigorous of the prestigious scholarships.

“I’m extremely humbled and thrilled to be selected as part of the new class of Churchill Scholars, and I’m proud to represent The University of New Mexico in this rare opportunity,” said Abeyta. “My interests in biochemistry, genetics, and research have helped me acquire the skills I will need to succeed at the University of Cambridge. I attribute many of these successes to the experiences I have had working with phenomenal mentors from Los Alamos National Laboratory, The University of New Mexico, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. I also would like to recognize my mentors from the UNM Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) Program for their research training, guidance, and support over the years.”

One of Abeyta’s mentors Regents' Professor Emeritus Maggie Werner-Washburne is thrilled, but not surprised, at his success.

“Esteban is not only incredibly bright, he is gracious, proactive in his communication, and has an incredibly optimistic attitude. In many respects, he is already a colleague,” said Werner-Washburne. “Esteban will do well in whatever career he chooses and I hope that, after he sees the world and gets his advanced degrees, that he comes back to New Mexico, because he has the potential to be a visionary, compassionate leader for the future of our state. His parents, Española, UNM, and New Mexico should be very proud of this wonderful young man.”

Abeytawas born and raised in Española, N.M. While at UNM on a Regents Scholarship he became a PBK member—the nation’s oldest academic honor society—and was honored a as 2018 Goldwater Scholarship recipient

He is also a member of Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) and conducted research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Los Alamos National Laboratory, US Department of Veteran Affairs, UNM College of Pharmacy, and UNM School of Medicine Molecular & Microbiology. Abeyta also has multiple publications in the peer reviewed journals. 

And when asked about his expectations for next year, the college senior shared some big plans.  

“At Cambridge, I plan to pursue an MPhil in Biochemistry focusing on the relationship between human genetics and diseases,” he said. “Specifically, I will be investigating how defects in DNA damage repair mechanisms can determine the severity of neurological diseases.”

The office at UNM that support students like Abeyta is The UNM National & International Scholarships and Fellowships (NISF) office. It provides opportunities for undergraduate students to become competitive candidates for prestigious scholarships—from coordinating the institutional endorsement to assisting the UNM nominees with the scholarship application process. 

Students who are interested in these scholarships must submit a preliminary application to obtain institutional endorsement.

For more information on scholarship opportunities visit the NISF website.