Voorhees student first winner of new award for women in science

Sona Dadhania, 19, of Voorhees, won the Science Ambassador Scholarship. It will pay for her remaining three years at the University of Pennsylvania.

Funds from the sales of a party game are paying one area student's way through college.

Sona Dadhania, 19, of Voorhees, Camden County, is the first recipient of the Science Ambassador Scholarship, which is funded by Cards Against Humanity.

This scholarship will cover the rest of Dadhania's education at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is a freshman in the materials science and engineering program.

Dadhania applied for the award at the end of November 2015 and found out she was the winner in early April.

"It was a little heart-stopping. A little bit surreal," Dadhania said. "I didn't know how to react."

She tried to go about the rest of her day normally, Dadhania said, until she surprised her family with the news later on.

"They were to the moon, they were so excited," Dadhania recalled. Undergraduate tuition at Penn is around $50,000 a year.

Dadhania was chosen from more than 1,000 applicants, the company said.

To apply, students submitted videos explaining topics in science that they are passionate about. For Dadhania, that was nanotechnology, which is something she was unfamiliar with before college.

"I figured it wasn't something that's really talked about, but it's really cool," Dadhania said. "And it's cool to explain to other people."

She used illustrations to explain the concept in the nearly three-minute video titled "Let's Talk Nano!"

The Science Ambassador Scholarship is to be given annually to a woman pursuing an undergraduate degree in science, technology, engineering, or math.

"We created this scholarship to raise visibility of women in science," said Jenn Bane, the Cards Against Humanity community director, in a news release.

Bane added that several of the staff at the company have backgrounds in the sciences, but called the underrepresentation of women in these fields "a glaring problem we've seen ourselves."

All proceeds from the sale of Cards Against Humanity's $10 expansion pack, the "Science Pack," go to funding the scholarship.

So far, the company has raised over $850,000 for the scholarship trust.

According to the release, Dadhania was chosen for the award by a board of more than 60 women who hold advanced degrees and work professionally in the sciences.

After college, Dadhania said she either plans to pursue a master's degree, or work for an aerospace or chemical manufacturing company.

Dadhania is the daughter of Drs. Mahendra and Ketki Dadhania. The former is an allergist and the latter works in mental health and addiction services for the state of New Jersey.

Dadhania was the valedictorian in 2015 at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees. She also scored a 2390 of 2400 in the SAT, which put her in the top 1 percent of test-takers.

Dadhania is also an avid painter and passionate about dance. At the University of Pennsylvania, she is a member of Penn-Raas, a South Asian dance team.

"I can't imagine my life without it to be honest," she said.

Applications for the Science Ambassador Scholarship will be accepted again this fall at ScienceAmbassadorScholarship.org.