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Awesome STEM scholarship opportunities available

November 4, 2020

High achieving, low-income NIU students pursuing STEM degrees are encouraged to investigate a unique scholarship opportunity.

Now in its third year, the BELONG in STEM scholars program provides selected students with scholarships of up to $5,000 each for as many as three years. The National Science Foundation S-STEM program awarded NIU with a $1 million grant to fund the scholarships.

Students accepted into the program will become part of a cohort guided by faculty and other mentors and be encouraged to take part in research and internship opportunities.

Applicants must be undergraduate students who will be junior-status and above in the fall 2021, and are majoring in biological sciences, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, geology and environmental geosciences, mathematics, statistics or computer science.

Students are encouraged to apply here. The application deadline is Jan. 31. After the deadline, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all positions have been filled. Notification of awards will begin in May 2021.

“This is a significant amount of scholarship money, and it also gives students a group of science majors that can help support each other,” said Timothy Hagen, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who is involved in the program.

Ralph Wheeler, professor and chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry, spearheaded the effort.

“The program provides not only significant scholarship money, but also supportive peer networking and fantastic professional development opportunities,” Wheeler said.

Students in the current BELONG in STEM cohort participate in a peer support group and work closely with graduate students, said Nicole LaDue, an associate professor in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences who helped bring the program to NIU.

It gives participants, including many first-generation students or the first in their families to pursue STEM fields, the chance to connect with peers in their majors, said LaDue, who remembers struggling during her first year of graduate school because of a lack of connections

“I want to see our students build those relationships,” she said. “The program provides a community and a home.

“I think, for all the faculty and graduate students involved, we really feel it’s paying it forward,” she said. “There are people who helped us, and this is our way of making sure there is support around to help them.”

Qualified applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents, have a preferred minimum GPA of 3.0, provide outstanding letters of recommendation, submit a strong personal statement and be able to show a demonstrated financial need as determined by FAFSA.

Students who won’t yet have junior-level status by next fall should keep this opportunity in mind for the future. Still have questions? Visit the BELONG in STEM Scholars Program website.