Photo: Courtesy of twenty20photos
Gerard Porter, age 22, from Saint Vincent and Grenadines not only recently graduated from Harvard University Summa Cum Laude, which means with highest honors, but he also received the Sophia Freund Prize, awarded to the highest-ranking Harvard senior. Additionally, Porter has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the United States.
Porter attended Saint Vincent Grammar School for forms 1-5 and then Saint Vincent Grenadines Community College during his sixth form. According to Porter, although he initially did not have plans to attend Harvard and did not know much about the school, other than its prestige and famous alumni, he applied to Harvard "mainly because of the encouragement of the directors of the Student Program for Innovation in Science and Engineering (SPISE), which is a summer program organized by the Caribbean Science Foundation (CSF) for Caribbean students ages 16 to 17 who are interested in STEM" (caribbean.loopnews.com).
While mathematics and English literature were Porter's interests in secondary school, science, particularly chemistry, won his heart and is the subject he pursued at Harvard. As Porter explains, "I have a lot of academic interests, especially in science, but I narrowed down my options to either applied mathematics or chemistry. Ultimately, my interest in making fundamental discoveries that could be applied to developing new medicines won out. Additionally, I loved the centrality of chemistry; nearly every science can be approached from a chemical perspective, which allowed me to develop my interests in the sciences more broadly even as I specialized in one area" (caribbean.loopnews.com).
Porter is a firm believer in mentorship as a critical ingredient to success. At Harvard, Porter sought guidance from older students as well as advisors. Seeking their counsel helped steer him in the direction of what was important to him and enabled him to fully take advantage of all the resources at Harvard.