4 So. Md. Students Awarded $25,000 STEM Scholarships by UNCF - Southern Maryland Headline News

4 So. Md. Students Awarded $25,000 STEM Scholarships by UNCF

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2016)—The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) today announced its first class of Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM scholars (STEM Scholars), and four are from So. Maryland. The 100 top-performing African American high school seniors, selected from across the nation, will each receive a total award package of up to $25,000 that includes scholarships and a stipend for STEM internships over five years. In addition, the program will provide wrap-around support critical to students' academic success. The award will enable the students to pursue a bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields at the college or university of their choosing while learning about innovation and startup tech entrepreneurship.

The four student from the local area are:

Marquis Barnes, of Clinton
High School Attended: Academy of Health Sciences at PGCC
Intended Institution: University of Maryland—College Park
STEM Major: Engineering

Andre Cook, of Fort Washington
High School Attended: From The Heart Christian School
Intended Institution: Washington University in St. Louis, MO
STEM Major: Engineering

Tarek Ellis, of Fort Washington
High School Attended: Friendly High
Intended Institution: Georgia State University, GA
STEM Major: Science

Damani Hamm, of Upper Marlboro
High School Attended: Charles Herbert Flowers High School
Intended Institution: University of Maryland- College Park
STEM Major: Engineering

UNCF and Fund II Foundation President Robert F. Smith have been focused on diversity and inclusion efforts, respectively, and in particular in the software industry. With African Americans making up less than five percent of the science and engineering workforce, and less than one percent of all tech startups, Fund II Foundation and UNCF joined together to address this challenge. The Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program will create a robust pipeline of African American students well prepared to have careers in the tech industry and to become the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

"We are thrilled by the selection of the first 100 Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars," said Linda Wilson, Fund II Foundation executive director. "These young scholars offer so much hope and excitement for the future as technology is transforming the economy at lightning speed."

Applications opened in November 2015 and closed in February, with more than 2,300 students applying for the coveted awards. The inaugural class of 100 STEM Scholars comprises 50 men and 50 women with an average grade point average (GPA) of 3.83. With regard to their academic aspirations, 44 percent of the scholars plan to pursue a degree in the sciences; eight percent will pursue technology; 45 percent, engineering; and three percent, mathematics.

Over the next four years, the Fund II Foundation UNCF STEM Scholars Program will continue its nationwide search to identify 100 more of the most highly motivated and academically talented African American high school students each year who are committed to pursuing STEM majors in college and careers in STEM industries. In addition to scholarships, the program will support their academic progress through mentoring and career development with internships that will help prepare them for the tech workforce.

The program also will expose students to the principles of startup tech entrepreneurship and offer them a unique opportunity to pursue their own entrepreneurial ventures upon graduation. Scholars will receive $2,500 per academic year as freshmen and sophomores, $5,000 a year as juniors and seniors, an additional $5,000 for students whose academic programs require a fifth year, and a $5,000 stipend based on a STEM-related project/internship of the student's interest.

The inaugural class of STEM Scholars will meet for a leadership summit July 29-31 in Atlanta, where they will meet one another, map out academic and career goals, and hear from African American experts within the STEM fields, including Dr. Ebony McGee, assistant professor of diversity and urban schooling at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Karl Pendergrass, a UNCF Merck postdoctoral fellow who is director of medical affairs for the cardiovascular and metabolic disease team at Merck. Fund II Foundation executive director Linda Wilson will also welcome the scholars at the summit.

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