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February 2018

Headshot of Hayley Raquer Knight Hennessy Winner

Headshot of Hayley Raquer Knight Hennessy Winner

Santa Clara University Alumna Wins Inaugural Knight-Hennessy Award

Hayley Raquer ’16 was chosen as one of 48 winners in a cohort of future leaders.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Feb. 15, 2018—A Santa Clara University biology alumna, Hayley Raquer ’16 has been named one of 48 inaugural Knight-Hennessy Scholars at Stanford University. The group includes citizens of 19 countries who will pursue degrees in 27 different Stanford graduate departments.

Raquer will receive financial support for the full cost of her attendance for her graduate education and build on her undergraduate degree program with leadership training, mentorship, and experiential learning across multiple disciplines. Raquer is currently engaged in a two-year fellowship at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.

“I was thrilled and honored when I was invited to be a member of the inaugural class,” said Raquer. “I am so grateful to the Santa Clara  community and all of the incredible mentors who supported me. I am looking forward to studying immunology with some of the best scientists in the country, and I hope to use my time as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar to approach problems regarding women’s health research and diversity in STEM.”

Modeled after the Rhodes Scholarship, the new Knight-Hennessy Scholars program aims to “identify a group of 100 high-achieving students from around the world with demonstrated leadership and civic commitment to receive full funding to pursue a wide-ranging graduate education at Stanford, with the goal of developing a new generation of global leaders,” the program states.

“We are particularly proud that the Knight-Hennessy award honors those who demonstrate leadership and civic commitment, values that are at the heart of our Jesuit mission,” said SCU President Michael E. Engh, S.J. “Hayley is truly a model of values-driven leadership, and we are delighted to see her accomplishments recognized in this award.”

Raquer was an exceptional undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences at SCU, where she was a member of the University Honors Program and also awarded both the Saint Clare Medal, for outstanding academic performance and constructive contribution to the University, and the DeNardo Senior Prize in Science Research. She was a 2015 Johnson Leadership Fellow, a program which awards a summer stipend to outstanding juniors and seniors to fund a self-defined leadership experience.

“Hayley has always impressed me with her intelligence, commitment, and passion for learning,” said Leilani Miller, associate professor of biology and director of the University Honors Program and Office of Fellowships. “She has extraordinary potential to make a positive impact as a future leader in the health sciences.

As the senior student in Prof Miller’s research lab, she pursued a project titled “Analysis of Phosphorylation of the C. Elegans Transcription Factor LIN-31 During Cell Signaling,” while also mentoring the younger students.

“Hayley is one of those inspirational students who has it all: smarts, social skills, organizational skills, can-do attitude, and a caring heart for others,” said Katy Korsmeyer, lecturer and associate director of special projects in the College of Arts and Sciences.Unlike many who have dreams and just talk about them, Hayley works toward her dreams to make them real. She’s always thinking of others, giving voice to those who aren’t represented, thinking globally about social good. She embraces life to its fullest. She’s a testament to what SCU represents.”

In 2014, Raquer was named a Clare Boothe Luce Undergraduate Research Scholar, awarded to outstanding undergraduate women majoring in the natural sciences and engineering. She also founded the popular campus group SCU Women in STEM, with the goal of expanding the influence of women mentors in science and technology.

Her award follows news last November that Santa Clara alumnus Sean Reilly ’16 had been named a Rhodes Scholar, SCU’s third winner in the past eight years and fourth in SCU history.

“Hayley is the most intellectually curious person I've ever met. She is not satisfied with being told ‘what is’ about the world, she needs to know ‘why is it,’” said Tracy Ruscetti, lecturer in biology and the assistant director of the Public Health Program. “Hayley seeks to understand the underlying mechanisms and the overarching principles of just about everything. When working on discovering the molecular basis of disease, she is thinking about the broader, more global impacts of her work.”

Understanding Diseases of the Immune System

At her fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, she is studying diseases of the immune system and has discovered a new genetic lesion that causes primary immunodeficiency. “Our lab uses next generation sequencing technologies to identify the genetic causes of a class of diseases called primary immunodeficiencies (PIDs),”  said Raquer.We both discover and characterize the molecular mechanisms of new diseases with the hope of gaining greater insight into the human immune system and developing new treatment strategies for affected patients.”

At Stanford, Raquer will be pursuing her Ph.D. in immunology. She hopes to leverage Stanford’s incredible computational resources and innovations to improve an understanding of diseases of the immune system.

Raquer is driven to the field by both a love of the processes behind scientific discovery and partly because she has experienced health issues that didn’t benefit from research and clinical trials.

She reiterated that the desire to help humankind is what made her want to come to Santa Clara. “I felt like the theme of social justice radiated from this campus. Everyone was so proud and excited to be here,” she said in 2016.

In applying for the Stanford Knight-Hennessy award, Raquer was assisted by Santa Clara University’s Office of Student Fellowships, which supports undergraduates and alumni through the highly competitive application process for national scholarships and fellowships.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees and engineering doctoral degrees. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact

Deepa Arora | SCU Communications | | (408) 554-5125

Deborah Lohse | SCU Communications | | (408) 554-5121


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