First Cohort of S-STEM Scholars Arrive at BVU

Fifteen S-STEM (Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) scholars hit the ground running upon their August arrival on campus as freshmen. The group is pioneering a new, large-scale scholarship program at Buena Vista University.

The S-STEM students arrived on campus two days early to participate in a summer bridge program within their University Seminar class. Activities also included a trip to TransAgra Interntational Inc. in Storm Lake.

BVU’s S-STEM scholarships were granted after the School of Science was awarded a nearly $650,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 2017 to support students who are entering a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field of study. Thanks to the grant funding, each year BVU selects 15-18 students to receive grant funding of $5,000 max per year for up to four years and $2,000 for a science sampler interim trip.

Anthony Baird, a pre-dentistry student from Moville, says “Winning this scholarship greatly influenced my decision to go to BVU because the price was much more affordable than other schools. I’m excited to dive in and see where the travel stipend will take me.” The grant (proposal #1643543) – which marks BVU's largest federal grant to date – was given through NSF's S-STEM program and launches BVU's STEM “Career And Research Exploration to Enhance Retention in STEM” (C.A.R.E.E.R.S.) program.

The program was developed by a team of BVU faculty and staff as a way to provide low-income, underrepresented students access to targeted programs and services in an effort to enhance their success and retention in STEM fields. Many students do not persist in STEM fields due to the lack of knowledge about the comprehensive range of careers that are available to them after graduation. The innovative STEM C.A.R.E.E.R.S. program aims to combat this issue through strategic student support and services.

In addition to the science sampler trip, the cohort will have access to a spectrum of services, including learning communities, tutoring, mentoring, success programs, and a robust career development plan. Specific activities will include seminar-style courses, a career-focused science trip, and interdisciplinary research and internship opportunities. Christina Jackson, a biomedical science major from Johnston, says, “I can’t wait to explore the different areas of science at BVU, which will help me determine different topics of individual research opportunities.”

The STEM C.A.R.E.E.R.S. program is interdisciplinary and enrolls low-income, high-performing students who major in biology, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, chemistry, computer science, data science, environmental science, mathematics, physics, pre-engineering, or science education. Eligible students can use the scholarship in conjunction with other BVU financial aid which is renewable each year and generally covers the full cost of tuition.