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Life After LEAD: Mark Costello, ’12

We catch up with one of our former LEAD Scholars.
By Mark Costello, ’12


Read time: 2 minutes

In grade school, I always had an inclination and a passion for math and science, so attending U-M’s College of Engineering was my dream. During the admissions process, I was fortunate enough to be admitted into several respected universities, including Michigan. Some of the schools also offered me some pretty enticing scholarships, but Michigan was not one of those schools.

Then, I received a letter from the Alumni Association containing an invitation for the LEAD Scholarship. To this day, I remember where I was standing when I opened that letter and broke into a series of fist pumps similar to those Tiger Woods demonstrates on the golf course. At that moment, I made the decision to become a Wolverine.

Fast forward one year to my first days on campus. I was a freshman trying not to get lost at every turn. I even recall thinking I was not permitted to enter the Hatcher Graduate Library because I was an undergrad. I eventually set foot in the graduate library after realizing I would not be reprimanded. I needed a lot of guidance in those early days and throughout my four years at Michigan. So I was fortunate to have the consistent support and encouragement from LEAD. The staff gave me a sense of belonging, especially when I would doubt myself after long nights of studying. It was also inspiring to hear from my LEAD peers about their engagement in their fields of choice.

In May 2012, I graduated with a chemical engineering degree. Shortly thereafter, I launched my career as a formulation scientist in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry, where I develop new medicines that help people with chronic illnesses or life threatening diseases. I am part of a team at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston that designs dosage forms (think tablets or capsules) for new drugs to maximize their safety and efficacy in the body. My time spent at Michigan prepared me to tackle the challenges I face at work each day as part of the drug development process.

I know I wouldn’t be doing this work if not for LEAD, which led to success in the classroom, multiple internships, a distinguished degree, and, ultimately, a career. The scholarship undoubtedly changed the course of my life after high school, and I will always be thankful for the support that led to the life I enjoy today.

Learn more about LEAD Scholars at

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