The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded the Mount St. Mary’s University Science Department a $601,830 grant toward scholarships for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students.
The grant will fund the Mount Opportunities for Success in Science (MOSS) program, which will provide scholarship funds for undergraduate students interested in the STEM fields. The award is part of the NSF’s “S-STEM” Program, the goal of which is to improve the STEM workforce.
“S-Stem aims to add diversity to these fields by giving students with exceptional talent in the sciences the financial opportunity to pursue their academic studies,” Mount St. Mary’s faculty member Dr. Rosie Bolen said.
The proposal for the grant was co-authored by four faculty members of the Science Department: Bolen, Dr. Kathryn Dye, Dr. Jennifer Staiger and Dr. Christopher Bradley.
Only seven students from the Mount’s incoming Class of 2020 will be selected to receive one of the first set of S-STEM scholarships, worth $10,000 per year. These awards will support students pursuing academic careers in biology, biochemistry and environmental science. Prospective students who wish to apply for the MOSS program will have to undergo a competitive application process.
The program strongly encourages scholars of minority groups to apply. All students who apply for the grant must show that they require financial need through FASFA.
Once students enter the MOSS program, they will be supported by Bolen and Dye, the faculty mentors of the program. MOSS utilizes three basic strategies that will aid in supporting these students.
The first strategy: MOSS will establish a community of learners. The faculty sponsors believe that students are more likely to succeed if they feel that they have a sense of belonging. The program will accomplish this by putting MOSS students in courses together, holding meetings where they will set goals for themselves, engaging the students in activities and by conducting peer mentoring.
The second strategy: giving the students academic support so they can reach their full potential in the classroom. Incoming students will have an expanded summer orientation program where students will become acquainted with MOSS. Learning Services will work strenuously with these students in teaching them the skills needed to become a successful college student.
The third strategy: student engagement in professional development. During junior and senior year, students will be given a professional mentor. Students will be able to network with professionals and personally experience daily life in their chosen field and work environment. Students may pursue their own research experience as well as the opportunity to present their findings professionally at a conference.
“It is exciting to see the Mount’s science department receiving such a competitive and prestigious grant,” said Associate Provost Dr. Leona Sevick. “This will only benefit the Mount’s academic program in new and exciting ways.”