GC Seeks Applicants for STEM-related Scholarships
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GC Seeks Applicants for STEM-related Scholarships

Gaston College seeks applicants for
STEM-related scholarships

Students interested in pursuing a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education are invited to apply for SPARC scholarships available at Gaston College. Biology majors are especially encouraged to apply. Friday, July 20, is the deadline to apply for priority consideration.sparc logo

The one-year renewable scholarships, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, are in the amount of $6,000 per year for Gaston College students. After completing their studies at Gaston College and receiving an Associate of Science degree, scholarship recipients who transfer to UNC Charlotte to major in biology are eligible to apply for one-year renewable scholarships of $7,500 per year.

 The scholarships are part of the SPARC4, or STEM Persistence and Retention via Curricula, Centralization, Cohorts, and Collaboration Project. The initiative is a collaboration among Gaston College, UNC Charlotte and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

Students chosen to receive the scholarship funds will also benefit from faculty and peer mentoring and targeted advising designed to promote successful transfer to the biology or pre-biology major at UNC Charlotte in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Participants in the SPARC project will have the opportunity to travel with their colleagues and instructors to present their research findings at science events around the United States. In past years, students have presented at events in Portland, Ore., Phoenix, Ariz., and Washington, D.C., among others.

The SPARC project is led by Ashley Hagler, SPARC Director; Dr. Melissa Armstrong, Science and Mathematics Chairperson; and Dr. Heather Woodson, Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. The new scholarship program is an expansion of the ongoing SPARC3 project which began at Gaston College in 2009. That project has resulted in improved academic sctwo students in labores for participating students and higher percentages of students completing their associate degrees, when compared to the college’s general population. The rate of students transferring into STEM majors at North Carolina universities has also increased due to the SPARC project.

In 2016, Gaston College received the Bellwether Award for Instructional Programs and Services in recognition of the SPARC project’s success. The Bellwether Award, an annual national award from the Community College Futures Assembly, recognizes outstanding and innovative programs leading the nation’s community colleges into the future. SPARC has also received certification from the Partnership for Undergraduate Life Science Education.

Gaston College hopes to award up to 15 scholarships to students participating in the SPARC project beginning in the Fall 2018 semester. To meet the priority deadline, applications should be submitted by Friday, July 20. SPARC Scholarship applicants will be interviewed by the SPARC staff. The interview process is in progress.

Those interested in applying for the scholarships must have maintained at least a 3.0 unweighted GPA in high school or in previous college courses (applicants from other colleges must have accumulated fewer than 20 class hours), and must enroll in the Associate of Science program at Gaston College. Early registration for the Fall 2018 semester has begun.

“The SPARC scholarships offer recipients an enhanced student experience and substantial financial support here at Gaston College and at UNC Charlotte,” said Dr. Woodson. “We are eager for qualified students who have a keen interest in STEM subjects—especially biology—to apply for the scholarships so they can pursue their passion for scientific study without a financial burden and with the enthusiastic backing of Gaston College faculty, staff, and their SPARC colleagues.”

For more information about the SPARC project and the SPARC scholarships, contact Ashley Hagler, SPARC Director, at hagler.ashley@gaston.edu or 704-922-6529.

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