SUCCESS Scholars to focus on STEM

Publication Date

To encourage and assist exceptional high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Union will launch an initiative aimed at producing future leaders in those fields.

The College was recently awarded a $614,749 grant from the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM program to provide annual scholarships of $6,500 to 10 first-year students starting this fall. A second group of 10 students will be selected for fall 2015.

The SUCCESS Scholars (Stimulating Undergraduates: Creating Contributors in Engineering and Science for Society) will be overseen by Joanne Kehlbeck, associate professor of chemistry. She will be assisted by Rebecca Cortez, associate professor of mechanical engineering; Scott Kirkton, associate professor of biology; Palmyra Catravas, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Samuel Amanuel, associate professor of physics.

They will provide mentoring and hands-on research opportunities for students pursuing a STEM discipline as a major or Interdepartmental major (ID). Scholars will have to maintain a solid academic record to remain in the program.

SUCCESS Scholars will also work with local employers, including General Electric Power and Water, New York State Police Forensics Investigation Center and others, to receive mentoring and leadership training opportunities.

One of the program’s goals is to recruit students from rural, under-resourced high schools. The College will partner with four public schools (Mechanicville High School, Duanesburg High School, North Warren High School and Little Falls High School) to identify potential scholars.

The College will also boost efforts to increase the number of women in engineering, physics, mathematics and computer science, and underrepresented students in all STEM disciplines.

STEM careers are the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S., yet women comprise less than a quarter of STEM workers.

“We need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering,” President Barack Obama said earlier this year. His administration has launched a number of initiatives to boost girls’ interest in STEM subjects.

“We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields, and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent … that is not being encouraged.”

Since 2000, Union has been awarded four S-STEM grants from the NSF totaling more than $2 million, one of the highest among liberal arts institutions. The program emphasizes the importance of recruiting, mentoring, and supporting students, and partnering with employers to facilitate student career placement in the STEM workforce.

"These grants highlight Union's strength in providing access to high-quality education for students from a wide variety of backgrounds as well as our faculty's commitment to working closely with students," said Therese McCarty, the Stephen J. and Diane K. Ciesinski Dean of the Faculty and Vice President for Academic Affairs.