A new grant at Austin College will allow bright students, who might not be able to afford secondary education, the opportunity to go to college and earn a degree in science. The college announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a series of scholarships for students studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

A new grant at Austin College will allow bright students, who might not be able to afford secondary education, the opportunity to go to college and earn a degree in science. The college announced Tuesday that it has been awarded a $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a series of scholarships for students studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.


"The important part of this is that these scholarships are for students who might not be able to go to Austin College otherwise," Stephanie Gould, a chemistry professor at AC, said Wednesday. "Students coming in will be supported for their entire time with us."


Through this series of scholarships, the college will be able to offer scholarships of up to $10,000 each year to students with financial needs who are studying STEM-related fields. These scholarships can be renewed for the students’ four years at AC, Gould said.


In addition to offering monetary assistance, the program will also offer students opportunities for mentorship and a paid summer internship during their studies. This will allow students the chance to get job experience prior to graduating.


"We get the chance to train and teach them in order to go into the workforce right away," Gould said.


When asked about the importance of these courses of study, Gould said STEM-related career paths make up close to half of the jobs in the U.S. In order to remain competitive on the world stage, the country needs to encourage training and careers in these fields, Gould said.


AC Chemistry senior George Melchor may not be able to benefit from this new program, but he said he shares a common story with those who may use it to get a better education. Coming from a family who immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago, Melchor started his student career by spending three years at a community college. Melchor was then able to attend Austin College using a grant similar to that offered through this program.


"Scholarships in general alleviate a burden on the student," he said. "It opened up a lot of doors for me and allowed me to go where I wanted rather than being constrained to certain schools."


Through his scholarships, Melchor was able to be a full-time student without the need of a secondary job to support himself.


"I don’t have to worry about (expenses) and can focus on my studies," he said.


This new grant represents three years of research and work in creating new scholarship opportunities for the college, Gould said. The college has applied for this grant three times, but this is the first time its proposal was accepted.


The program is expected to start in the fall semester of 2017 and last for five years, AC Executive Admissions Director Amanda Kisselle said, adding that about 56 students are expected to benefit from this program. After the end of this period, the school will be allowed to reapply for future grants, she said.


"We are really excited about this opportunity that will allow us to reach out to high achievers in math and science who might not otherwise afford this education," she said.