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APSU receives NSF grant to award scholarships for military and community college students

8/30/2012

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            CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Three Austin Peay State University professors are on the lookout for community college students, active duty military personnel, veterans and dependents interested in earning a bachelor’s degree in the science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines. That’s because the National Science Foundation is awarding them more than $500,000 over the next five years to offer scholarships for qualified students in those areas.

            The project, titled "Increasing the Number of Regional Community College Graduates and Active Duty Military Personnel, Veterans and Dependents Enrolling in and Completing a STEM Baccalaureate Degree," will begin awarding scholarships this fall under the direction of Dr. Cindy L. Taylor, professor of biology, Dr. Karen Meisch, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics and statistics. Scholarships are available for the above-mentioned individuals who have a 3.0 GPA and can demonstrate financial need.

            “We’re working with Columbia State, Nashville State and Volunteer State Community College, and also with the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell,” Taylor said. “Students can apply and receive a NSF S-STEM Scholarship for their sophomore year at the community college or at Fort Campbell. That would allow them to complete an Associate of Science degree. Then they would come to Austin Peay. That’s potentially three years of support.”

            Eligible applicants must major in either biology, chemistry, computer science, geosciences, mathematics or physics at APSU. The hope is that the scholarships will increase the number of students from regional community colleges and military backgrounds to come to APSU, in addition to increasing the number of STEM graduates in the community.

            “These individuals might not know what the options are, or they might not think it’s a possibility for them,” Rayburn said. “But if there’s some money that makes it feasible for them to continue, that opens some doors. This helps some good students who might encounter difficulties otherwise, financially.”

            The NSF grant will also provide money for a bridge program that will help these students transition from community colleges and the military to APSU. The program will bring these students together on campus each summer, and also host special events throughout the year.

            “It can be challenging for transfer students to feel like they’re part of a community,” Meisch said. “The idea of this bridge program is to give them a cohort, give them a community that they’re all part of. It will give them a way to contact each other and work on some basic study skills and say, ‘hey, we’re all in this boat together. What can we do to be successful?’”

            The professors anticipate awarding about 15 scholarships this academic year, with the awards ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 per student, depending on individual demonstrated financial need.

            For more information on the scholarships, such as eligibility and how to apply, visit the program’s website, http://www.apsu.edu/cosm/apsu-national-science-foundation-s-stem-scholarship-information.

 

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Photo cutline: Dr. Karen Meisch, associate professor of biology, Dr. Cindy L. Taylor, professor of biology, and Dr. Nell Rayburn, professor of mathematics, were recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant to offer scholarships to students looking to study STEM subjects. (Photo by Beth Liggett/APSU Staff)