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Top STEM Scholarships for Hispanics

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Minority students capture just 13 percent of engineering jobs annually, according to the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), despite minorities constituting 34 percent of the 18- to 24-year-old population. One way to increase the number of minorities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields is by providing more scholarships to deserving Latino students focused on the sciences.

In this article, we profile seven of the top STEM scholarships that target Latinos, minorities and other students including: 1) lhc Google Scholarship Program; 2) NASA Scholarsliips; 3) the Alliance/Merck Ciencia (Science) Hispanic Scholars Program; 4) the NiVCME Scholars Program; 5) Advancing Hispanic Excellence in Technology, Engineering, Math and Science (AHETEMS) scholarships; 6) the Aetna Nursing Scholarship; and 7) Great Minds in STEM.

Earning a scholarship lakes preparation and forethought. Following are some inside tips on how Latino students can earn STEM scholarships. They come to us upon the recommendation of Frank Alvarez, who was president and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSi) for five years before retiring from the nonprofit organization in January 2013.

Tip No. 1, Prepare for Scholarships Early in High School: Starting as a freshman in high school, Latino students must develop a success plan to compete for scholarships, Too many students wake up in their senior year and start thinking about applying for scholarships. But by that time, the odds of winning one have narrowed. Start taking challenging classes in math, science and English as a freshman. Take challenging courses including several Al' courses, Meet with an advisor and take classes in the right sequence to build on skills and knowledge.

Tip No. 2, Differentiate Yourself from the Competition: Latino students must differentiate themselves in high school to compete for scholarships. Becoming president of student government, editor of the school newspaper or a band member are all ways to separate oneself from the pack. Scholarship donors are seeking community-minded students. Tutoring Latino and other students at an elementary or middle school is a solid way to difterenliate yourself. Said Alvarez: ''Mentoring others shows scholarship donors that you're thinking about other people."

Tip No. 3, Sharpen Your Interviewing Skills: Tn many lutino families, children are encouraged to be quiet and respectful, which is fine. But some scholarships involve being interviewed, and often the students that are most expressive, articulate and commanding shine. Find a teacher you trust and ask if he or she can perform mock interviews to sharpen your interviewing skills.

Tip No. 4, View Science and Engineering in a New Way: Many students are intimidated by science, math or engineering. But some of these same students can break down a computer, use robotics and understand Wi-Fi. If students see science in a problem-solving way. it can boost their confidence and sense of mastery.

Tip No. 5, Practice and Prepare for the SATs: Striving for the highest grade-point average (GPA) and SAT scores serves as one critical way to earn a STEM scholarship. Affluent students take Kaplan and Princeton Review SAT prep courses, so minority students need to find ways to prepare for taking SAT tests as well. The College Board has been exploring ways to provide lower-income students with the same SAT prep courses that affluent students pay for in order to level the playing field.

Tip No. 6, Focus on Writing and English: Even if a Latino student is focused on a STEM career, pay careful attention (o doing well in English. Learning to write coherently and thinking critically form the building blocks of earning a STEM scholarship.

Tip No. 7, Emphasize Resilience: There are a spate of students who enter high school, express interest in majoring in STEVl fields in college and meet resistance in a beginning chemistry or calculus course. Frustrated, they give up and shift directions. Try to stay resilient. One tough class shouldn't deter a Latino student from pursuing science or math. Learn to bounce back, build your intellectual capacity and move on.

Tip No. 8, Emulate Previous Winners: Scholarship winners come in all si?cs and shapes, but most are first-generation undergraduates who achieved academically in high school, show persistence and learn to solve problems. Demonstrate leadership and take initiative.

Tip No. 9, Think About Earning Several Scholarsliips: Alvarez recommended that students don't get trapped in narrow, tunnel vision when competing for financial aid. Don't think only about science and engineering financial aid; think about earning scholarships. "Start thinking about scholarships designed around certain majors and careers." recommended Alvarez.

Tip No. 10, It's Not Just the GPA: The more community involvement you display, the stronger your application, Scholarships are not just awarded based on grades or SAl' scores but are usually given to students on a holistic basis.

Following are seven top STEM scholarsliips for Latinos:

Google Scholarships

Google is aware of the changing demographics boosting the Latino population in the U.S. and wants to ensure that it attracts a diversified labor force. It collaborates with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to offer five i10,000-a-year scholarships for Latino students interested in STEM fields, Alvarez said criteria for awarding the scholarships include GPA, class standing, essays submitted, and community involvement. Google is seeking serious science-minded students who have made a commitment lo taking challenging STEM courses and performed well in these classes. For more info, go to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund website,

NASA Scholarships

NASA's Aeronautics Scholarship Program is not targeted solely for Latino students but is open to high school students of all ethnicities. Students are awarded $ 15,000 a year for two years for educational expenses and are also given an additional $10,000 Io finance summer internships at the NASA Research Center.

The executive team at NASA wants to attract talented Latino and minority students with a flair for science and engineering. "The federal government does work force projections. They know the demographics of the growing minority population/* Alvarez said. Students need to perform internships with NASA and travel to workshops.

Alliance/Merck Ciencia (Science) Hispanic Scholarship Program

The Alliance/Merck Ciencia (Science) Hispanic Scholarship Program offers two types of scholarships. It offers 10 Hispanic high school seniors who plan to pursue STEM majors a $42,500 scholarship package, But winners must attend high school in one of three locations: Brownsville, Texas; Elizabeth, N.J.; and Los Angeles, Calif. Winners receive $5,000 a year for four years of undergraduate study, which is supplemented by $7,500 annually for up to three summer internship programs. Criteria to earn a scholarship include diese details: students must possess a 2.75 GPA, involved in full-time study, majoring in STEM fields, and must attend a one-week scholars' program.

In addition, Merck offers a larger program, awarding 25 scliolarsliips to Hispanic undergraduate STEM majors attending college in any of the 50 states. The award is a one-time $2,000 scholarship. To earn that scholarship, students must be enrolled in a college, be of Hispanic origin, have a 2.75 GPA, and be a STEM major. For more information, visit

NACME Scholars Program

As its name suggests, scholarships offered by the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) promote minorities pursuing careers in engineering, hi fact, NACME offers scholarships to students attending 25 participating colleges. But these students must already be accepted and enrolled in the college in order to compete for it, explained Aileen Walter, XACME's vice president of scholarships. "These scliolarsliips aren't open to the general public,'' Walter emphasized.

However, NACME's Pre-Engineering Scholarships, which target high school seniors embarking on an engineering career, are eligible to the general public, Walter said. XACME offers 20 awards of $2,500 each for first-year tuition. To be considered, students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA in lugli school, 1,650 combined SAl' scores, and pursue an engineering degree.

SHPE Foundation's AHEHMS Scholarships

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) offers a 2,500 scholarship to Hispanic seniors in high school who have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and attend an accredited U.S. or Puerto Rican school. Students must be accepted into a two-year or four-year college in fee U.S. To be chosen, students must demonstrate leadership and service in the Hispanic community and be able to attend a pre-college symposium .

SHPE Foundation also offers $1,000 to $5,000 awards for high school seniors, undergraduates and graduate students. Students must have a minimum 2.75 GPA, fill out an application form, write a personal statement ordine, and submit a one-page resume and faculty recommendations. For more information, visits the website at

Aetna Nursing Scholarship

Aetna offers two $2,500 scholarships for one year to nursing majors for any student attending a two-year or four-year Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) associated college, explained Jorge Burwick, HACU's assistant director of scholarships and student services, Aetna wants to make sure it attracts a diverse base of nursing students into the field.

Student must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and demonstrate financial need. Students must also write an essay. ''We're looking for their community involvement and work experience. The scholarships are not just based on GPA," Burwick said.

Great Minds in STEM Scholarships

Great Minds in STEM offers about one hundred scholarships, ranging from $500 each to $10.000 for one year, explained Ray Mellado. Great Minds in STEM CEO. Scholarships are awarded in total for about $250.000, he said. Scholarships are aimed at Hispanic and underrepresented students who are applying for or enrolled in college.

About 80 percent of scholarships are awarded to students attending four-year colleges, about 15 percent are given to high school students, anil ahout 5 percent go to students in two-year engineering or science programs. Annually, about ?00 to 700 students apply for these 100 scholarships. Awards are based on merit, not financial need.

Scholarship winners can apply the following year for another one. But they must compete with all of die applicants and aren't given any advantages based on winning previously. ''Every year is a new race," Mellado said.

Great Minds in STEM is seeking students who exhibit leadership. Mellado said. "Winners do more than just get good grades. They're out there trying to help their school and their community and are trying to make a difference," he said.

Students must demonstrate a minim urn 3.0 GPA, write an essay about what they plan to do with their math or science degree and answer another topical question. Students must also submit a faculty recommendation and one recommendation from a peer.

"Good grades are important," Mellado said. But it takes more than outstanding grades to earn a Great Minds in STEM scholarship. Civic involvement is just as critical as outstanding grades.

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