FAIRFIELD, Conn.—The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Sacred Heart University’s School of Computer Science & Engineering a $1.5 million grant to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholarships over the next six years.
The grant will benefit 24 students—eight from the current freshman class and eight from each of the next two freshman classes—who are from underserved communities. The students will receive up to $9,500 annually during their four undergraduate years. The recipients will be selected from the following majors: computer science, electrical engineering, computer engineering, information technology, game design development and cybersecurity.
Funding comes from the NSF’s STEM scholarships program, which seeks to increase the number of marginalized, academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who go on to earn degrees in STEM fields. The program also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic and career pathways of underserved students.
“What excites us about this grant is that it’s a scholarship for students who really need it. It’s going to help us bridge the gap,” said Tolga Kaya, principal investigator of the grant and director of SHU’s engineering programs.
Kaya worked with Sacred Heart’s financial aid office to identify scholarship candidates among the current freshman class
“The students initially didn’t believe it, because it was too good to be true,” he said. “Now, they are filling out the applications, and their stories are inspirational and heartbreaking at the same time. Learning about their struggles and their obstacles to come here makes you realize how many people take college for granted.”
Scholarship recipients also will receive grant-funded, paid summer internships with nonprofit Bridgeport area community partners during their first two years at SHU to serve as STEM mentors for middle and high school students in underserved communities. “This adds a community service aspect to the grant. Plus, imagine a freshman having a paid internship in the community they grew up in,” Kaya said. “It gives me goose bumps.”
Catherine McCabe, Welch College of Business & Technology dean, said the scholarships will help educate future leaders in the computer science and engineering fields. “Receiving this National Science Foundation grant is a testament to the commitment of SHU and the Welch College of Business & Technology has to support students, not only financially, but with a holistic and integrative approach to experiential education,” McCabe said. “This grant makes it possible for a talented group of students to develop and learn as engineers in state-of-the-art facilities with dedicated and passionate faculty. We are very proud of our faculty for all they do with their students, and we know this grant will enable us to have even more of a positive impact on students who want to be engineers.”
About Sacred Heart University
As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing private doctoral institutions in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers nearly 90 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has a campus in Dingle, Ireland, and offers online programs. More than 10,000 students attend the University’s nine colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Social Work; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education & Human Development; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; the Dr. Susan L. Davis, R.N., & Richard J. Henley College of Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 388 Colleges–2023 Edition, and Best Business Schools–2022 Edition. Sacred Heart is home to the award-winning, NPR-affiliated radio station, WSHU, a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theatre. www.sacredheart.edu
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