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New scholarship encourages Latino students to pursue STEM degrees

LatinaLista — The lack of diversity in fields such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is causing a lot of concern for big companies who want a workforce that not just reflects the larger society but which is also instrumental in creating products and services that appeal to everyone.
Microsoft is so bothered that the future pool of IT workers will include less people of color and women that it is hosting a special web conference today focusing solely on diversity.
There is reason to be concerned. The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) reports that in 2006-2007, African Americans accounted for roughly 11 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients in computer science, while Latinos accounted for an estimated 7 percent.
With the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting that the fastest growing occupations are computer-related jobs, well, you can do the math.
Realizing that Latinos lag behind when it comes to pursuing degrees in these specific fields, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and the Merck Company Foundation have joined together to create the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholars Program.
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Hispanic engineering students take part in a NASA-sponsored program.
(Source: NASA)

The Merck Company Foundation gave the program a $4 million grant to improve Hispanic student access to higher education in the pursuit of degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM degrees.
Over the next five years, the program will provide two types of scholarships for students pursuing STEM degrees: The Ciencia National Scholarships will award 125 Latino college students across the nation with scholarships of $2,000, and the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholars scholarships which will identify those Latino students, who live in Brownsville, TX, Elizabeth, NJ and Los Angeles, CA, eligible to apply for one of 50 scholarships in the amount of $20,000 and an additional $22,500 in internship support.
All the recipients will receive ongoing support from program officials.
To find out more about the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Scholars Program visit the web site or text “CIENCIA” to 30644 to sign up for an online application which will become available on September 16, 2008. Application deadline is January 16, 2009 with scholarship winners announced in May 2009.

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