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Grant will assist University in recruiting top math and science students

May 7, 2001

Austin Peay is one of only 15 institutions nationwide to receive a Verizon FOCUS grant, which will support the recruitment and retention of qualified minority undergraduates in science and math

The Verizon Foundation has given APSU a $30,000 grant to fund a summer science and math apprenticeship program for minorities from two county high schools, Montgomery County Central and Northwest.

The Verizon Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Verizon Wireless.

Dr. Willodean Burton, associate professor of biology, and Dr. Samuel Jator, assistant professor of math and computer science, have been working together to make the grant possible. During the first year, $15,000 will be used to buy supplies for training the students and providing a $600 stipend for each participant. In the second year, part of the remaining $15,000 will be used to support another group of students. The students will attend a five-week program on the APSU campus.

"We greatly appreciate the confidence and support that Verizon has provided to make this program possible," Burton said. "We will do an integrated science-math project. We will collect scientific data and use math for data analysis. Hopefully, the students will be able to see how the programs are linked."

She said the project will include field and lab work, but the final idea is still in the planning stage.

APSU applied for this grant last year and was not funded. But resolve pays off.

"Verizon directed us, saying, 'This is what you need to do' when they reviewed our last proposal," Burton said. "We addressed those issues."

"In math and the sciences, the numbers of minorities are very low. One reason is that many students have the impression that these are 'hard' courses, and they shy away from them," Burton said.

"This program will allow minorities to see there are mentors in math and science. We hope this will motivate more students to go into these areas and be persistent to their goals," she said.

Students from the two high schools must be nominated by a science teacher or counselor, write an essay describing how this program can help them, and submit transcripts. A selection committee of APSU faculty and administrators will make the final choices.

"We hope to have the first students by this second session of summer school, which begins in July," Burton said.

For more information about this program, telephone Burton at 7778.