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UTSA awarded $640K to help economically disadvantaged pursue science careers

FAST Scholars

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(Oct. 13, 2014) -- UTSA has been awarded a five-year, $640,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help economically disadvantaged students pursue graduate studies or scientific careers in the workforce.

The funding will create the inaugural Facilitated Access to Scientific Training (FAST) scholarship program at UTSA. The program will increase the number of economically disadvantaged students who complete undergraduate degrees in biology, chemistry or physics. Scholarship recipients will receive up to $10,000 per year for four years based on recommendations from the UTSA Office of Student Financial Aid & Enrollment Services.

"The NSF has started these programs throughout the nation because we are losing a lot of talent that should be pursuing education in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math," said George Negrete, FAST program principal investigator and UTSA chemistry professor. "This is critical for the economic well-being of our nation. It's fantastic that we are investing in this kind of top-tier program."

Six FAST Scholars will be recruited primarily from among the participants of the San Antonio Prefreshman Engineering Program (SA-PREP). SA-PREP, established at UTSA in 1979 by mathematics professor Manuel Berriozabal, has prepared more than 16,000 middle and high school students to pursue degrees in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

Prospective applicants must have:

  • Completed Advanced Placement courses
  • Earned at least a cumulative 3.3 grade point average
  • Achieved a score of at least 1200 on the SAT
  • Completed a one-page career goal statement
  • Demonstrated an interest in participating in the scientific workforce or pursuing doctoral studies after completing undergraduate degree

Applicants who have participated in SA-PREP for one or more summers are strongly encouraged to apply.

"Our community produces some really brilliant young students," said Negrete. "UTSA is the place where they should be coming for their training. We have exceptional training capabilities that would be of great advantage to these committed students."

During their first year, FAST Scholars will be assigned a faculty mentor and an upper-division trained student guide in their area of interest. The faculty mentor and scholar will meet twice each semester to create a professional development plan. Faculty mentors will guide the scholars through completion of their degrees.

The FAST Scholars will participate in activities to develop academic excellence and independence as they proceed through their advanced coursework. The students will be mentored to become competitive scientists by connecting with productive faculty members and advanced undergraduate majors. Additionally, FAST Scholars will have opportunities for personal and professional growth by participating in enrichment activities that include presentations at scientific conferences.

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FAST Scholar applications will be accepted until Nov. 1. For more information, contact George Negrete at 210-458-5448 or Gail Taylor at 210-458-5761.

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