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Over $1 million to be awarded to OU STEM programs

Ohio University will receive over $1 million over the next five years as a part of a recently announced $69.8 million scholarship award from the Ohio Department of Higher Education for Choose Ohio First programs. 

The scholarship will go toward science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, majors, and 57 colleges and universities in Ohio will benefit from the scholarship, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Higher Education. Although this scholarship is new, the Choose Ohio First scholarship began in 2012, with $7.5 million to award to universities in Ohio.  

Ohio State University will also receive over $1 million and Miami University will receive over $500,000. In order to receive those amounts, universities had to send proposals to the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

“The Ohio Department of Higher Education evaluates proposals from colleges and universities with an emphasis on supporting underrepresented student populations and those that target STEM fields that lead to in-demand careers,” Randy Gardner, Ohio Department of Higher Education chancellor, said in an email. “An enhanced work-based component was added to the Choose Ohio First program this year, emphasizing internships and other workplace experiences available to students. Ohio University returned a very strong proposal.”

Robert Colvin, professor and chair of the biology department, said the department plans to match the amount received through the Choose Ohio First scholarship.

“The department is matching the Choose Ohio First dollars … so that we can provide these opportunities for both the faculty to mentor the students, and for the students to have those opportunities for developing their skills in the different fields that they're interested in,” Colvin said.

Colvin said he hopes that students will be more prepared after graduation through the mentoring the scholarship will be able to provide.

“I hope to see that we help more students to become better citizens, better trained in the STEM field and better qualified when they graduate,” Colvin said. “And so we're hoping that this is a real stimulus to bring students to Ohio University in the STEM fields, and that they'll be well trained when they leave.”

Camden Houston, a junior studying computer engineering, said this scholarship opportunity will allow for more students to enter STEM-related majors.

“I think that these scholarships are a great step in the right direction from the state of Ohio,” Houston said in an email. “Technical fields only benefit from more talent being introduced, and those benefits improve the quality of life (for) all of us. The fact that there are brilliant people all over the world that never get to realize their full potential because of financial reasons is a tragedy that plays out all too often, and in previous years Ohio's government has done that situation no favors in cutting the budget of primary education. I hope this trend of prioritizing the next generation of scientists and engineers continues.”

Additionally, Houston believes this scholarship will lead to overall success within the computer engineering department by increasing enrollment.

“The research and design work that these students do is a huge factor in judging any school of engineering,” Houston said in an email. “For example, Ohio University has world leading experts on GPS systems. More students doing research under these experts means that OU continues to expand its reputation as a major contributor in that field. The rest of the world also gets improved GPS systems, which ties into the point I made in my first response about how it helps all of us.”

Gardner said he has been developing the scholarship with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted since the establishment of the Choose Ohio First scholarship.

“Even 13 years ago he had the vision to know that STEM majors and STEM careers were important to Ohio’s future and would help keep thousands of students in Ohio for their college education,” Gardner said in an email. “Now as Lieutenant Governor, he continues to be a strong advocate for growing the programs and the opportunities for students.”

With both the new scholarship for STEM students and programs, as well as the original Choose Ohio First scholarship, Gardner said the scholarships are vital in aiding college-level student’s success.

“Choose Ohio First invests in talented and motivated students who can be an important part of Ohio’s emerging economy,” Gardner said in an email. “This program is a key aspect of Governor DeWine’s 'student-focused' higher education strategy.”


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