Earlham College has been selected for a six-year, $747,247 grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a new career planning and discernment program for students in STEM.
The Earlham Science Scholar program (ESS) will begin in fall 2023 and provide up to $10,000 per year in scholarships to income-eligible students pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Scholarship recipients will also receive a paid Earlham summer research experience, a stipend to attend a scientific conference and specialized mentorship from STEM faculty and the College’s Science and Environment Career Community.
“The focus of this program nationally is to increase the number of STEM graduates working in communities around the country,” said Lori Watson, a professor of chemistry and a co-leader of the program. “Something that strengthened our grant application was our strong record of sending students into graduate school and our proximity to STEM industry, both locally and regionally.”
Cohorts of five students will be selected for the program for the next three consecutive years. Academic majors supported by the program include engineering, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental science, mathematics, data science and physics.
Students must meet Earlham’s admissions requirements, be Pell-grant eligible and remain in good academic standing to receive the scholarship over four years. When combined with a typical financial aid package for Pell-eligible students, the ESS program will significantly reduce the cost of attendance for qualifying students. Any remaining ESS money can be applied to the cost of room and board, books or fees.
“Earlham already has a strong reputation as a national leader in value and affordability,” Watson said. “This grant will further address some economic inequalities and work to recruit and retain academically talented students who may still need additional support to pursue a college education.”
The ESS program builds upon the college’s signature student success initiative called the Epic Journey. This student-centered, four-year journey combines Earlham’s nationally recognized classroom experience with access to transformative learning experiences, including internships, research and off-campus study, that prepare students exceptionally well for life after Earlham. A key feature of the Epic Journey is the Epic Advantage, Earlham’s offer of up to $5,000 to every student to customize these types experiences so they align with a graduates’ future pursuits.
“The Earlham Science Scholars program has been crafted to take advantage of the things we already have in place and incorporates additional scaffolding and experiences that will make these students stand out from other applicants pursuing graduate school or entering the workforce,” said Mike Deibel, senior associate vice president of academic affairs. “For example, Earlham Science Scholars can begin with a summer research experience the summer after their freshman or sophomore year. They can use that experience to refine their career goals, and then use their Epic Advantage funding to pursue a second research experience elsewhere.
“Two solid summers of research experience before graduation is very attractive to employers and graduate schools,” he said.
Earlham is already national leader in the percentage of students who pursue advance degrees and Earlhamites are strong candidates for National Science Foundation-sponsored opportunities, including the Research Experience Undergraduate and Graduate Research Fellows programs. During the last five years, three Earlham graduates have been selected for the GRF program and two received honorable mentions.
“These extra experiences really build your resume up,” Deibel said. “If you want to go to graduate school, if you want to work for a pharmaceutical company or an environmental lab, this program offers the opportunity to earn all of the credentials you need to set yourself apart from the competition.”
Acknowledgment: The Earlham Science Scholar program (ESS) is supported by the National Science Foundation under a Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Program (S-STEM) Grant DUE-2220647.
Disclaimer: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.