NEW BEDFORD — Five high school seniors were awarded scholarships worth a total $175,000 Thursday by city native Dr. Irwin Jacobs during a ceremony at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Now in its 16th year, the Jacobs Family New Bedford High Schools Scholarship is awarded to students intending to major in formal sciences, physical sciences life sciences, engineering or computer science, who receive $35,000 paid out over four years.

New Bedford High School senior Katelynn Amaral plans to study computer science at Wentworth University and hopes to share her success with her community back home.

"I hope that through this education, I will be able to inspire the people in this city that no matter where they start in the world, they can make any changes and any difference and accomplish amazing things," said Amaral.

Also receiving the scholarship from NBHS were Gwynne Eichman and Skylah Reis.

Reis ranks first in her class academically and plans to attend Harvard University in the fall to study environmental sciences and biological oceanography.

"I believe people love what they understand and only understand what they are taught," Reis said while thanking Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs. "With your help, I hope to get a degree in environmental science so that I can become a vessel of knowledge about the world for others and maybe, one day, we can share mutual love for our earth."

Global Learning Charter Public School's Isaiah Spencer and Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech's Vanessa Briand also received scholarships.

Thursday's guest speaker was 2011 scholarship recipient Emily Westgate. She explained how the scholarship helped relieve the burden of working to pay for tuition during school.

"For me, the Jacobs Scholarship filled a void and instilled hope," said Westgate. "What I didn't realize as a senior in high school was how much the Jacobs Scholarship would impact my experience at Brown as an undergraduate student."

Westgate said without having to work as much during her time at Brown, she was able focus more on her school work and more involved in extracurricular activities in the field of her studies in public health.

The Jacobs Family New Bedford High Schools Scholarship was created in 2001 with a $1 million gift  to the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts, and has since been awarded to 63 students.