Twenty-four science, engineering and technology majors at St. Mary’s University will start a unique educational journey this fall, thanks to a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The grant is providing scholarships and special programming for the students, who will live and study together during the unique four-year STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Scholars Program. The program, which is a part of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology, targets financially disadvantaged, high-ability students who are first-generation students or from underrepresented groups.

Twenty-three of the students are from Texas, and most are from San Antonio and South Texas. Each will receive $22,000 in scholarships directly from the grant, in addition to other scholarship and grant funding for which they qualify.

“Our goal is to graduate 100 percent of these students in four years, preparing them for success in graduate school, medical school or their professional lives,” said Richard Cardenas, Ph.D., program director and Chair of the Department of Physics and Earth Science. First-generation students often experience unique challenges in college compared to students with parents who went to college. This program seeks to address those needs.

Cardenas added, “These are students with high academic abilities, and if they do run into problems, the STEM Scholars team is going to be there to help them succeed. We will be creating best practices that will be used to assist other St. Mary’s students.”

Throughout their four years, the students will participate in linked, thematic curricular experiences. They will live in the designated STEM residence hall and benefit from comprehensive package of student support services, academic enrichment, outreach, job placement services, and graduate program advising.

“In addition to benefiting 24 deserving students, the grant will serve as a catalyst for many educational innovations that we expect will promote academic success,” said Winston Erevelles, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Science, Engineering and Technology. “This NSF grant provides the University with much-needed resources to prepare young men and women to be STEM leaders for our region and the nation.”

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