July 17, 2020

Breaking Down Barriers to Serve in the Technology Field

Darla Martin Tucker, La Sierra University News

Seven students aiming for careers in computer science and mathematics have received a financial boost and a healthy dose of encouragement as recipients of this year’s Edison International science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) scholarships.

The La Sierra University students were recognized recently during an annual scholarship awards ceremony for their receipt of US$2,143 each toward tuition costs in the coming school year. They were selected from among a pool of applicants following the university’s receipt of a US$15,000 grant from the energy conglomerate Edison International. To date, the university has been awarded a total of US$105,000 since the 2014-15 school year from Edison International’s STEM scholars program for supporting students’ career interests.

“It was an absolute honor to be selected for this amazing scholarship,” said Morgan Williams, who will be a junior in the next school year. “I am truly excited to use it to aid my continued pursuit towards my computer science degree.” The Loma Linda resident aims to earn a doctorate in her field and work to break down barriers and stereotypes often associated with technology careers.

“I plan on furthering my education all the way to a PhD and then, using that, and any other work experience I garner on this journey, to ultimately implement a fun, educational program to expose young minority women and girls to STEM at an early age and to disassociate the somewhat negative connotation of being a ‘nerd’ or a ‘tech geek’. Doing that will drastically reduce the gender gap and lack of diversity in my field of study,” Williams said.

In the near term, she is searching for a virtual software engineering internship this summer and planning a bit of travel to visit family.

This year’s scholarship recipients include computer science majors Sunny Zhou, Cody Johnson, Deborah Kim, and Jose Campos, and mathematics majors Tong Tong Zhao and Cole Mupas.

The range of criteria to receive an Edison STEM scholarship includes demonstration of financial need; enrollment in a STEM major; a minimum 3.0 grade point average; and demonstration of campus involvement, among other benchmarks.

“There has never been a time with a greater need for qualified STEM professionals,” said Marvin Payne, chair of La Sierra’s chemistry and biochemistry department. “We are proud of our graduates from diverse backgrounds who go on to STEM careers and make a difference in their communities. At the same time, students have increasing challenges affording an education, and sometimes the barriers are too large. We are grateful for the Edison scholarships that have helped our students develop a vision for their careers while assisting their education in a tangible way.”

Edison International also offers STEM scholarships to eligible high school seniors. It has awarded more than US$11.1 million in scholarships to 670 students through the Edison Scholars Program since 2006, the company says.

The original version of this story was posted on the La Sierra University news site.