As the Head of the Boston Vertex Learning Lab, there’s nothing more rewarding than watching students’ eyes light up as they explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) through hands-on experiments. And when these same students begin to think about the possibility of pursuing a STEAM-related career, it’s even more powerful.
But for under-resourced students, the journey toward a fulfilling future in STEAM is often marked with challenges – including college tuition costs, lack of role models and difficulty in finding relevant work experience.
That’s why Vertex launched our Vertex Science Leaders Scholarship – a four-year, full-ride scholarship that enables Boston Public School students to pursue a STEAM-related course of study at any University of Massachusetts campus. The program is part of our $50 million commitment to expand STEAM education over the next 10 years. While we have a number of programs aimed at inspiring students to love science and supporting them throughout their education, our scholarship program is one of the most important components to help students succeed in STEAM.
Eleven students have been awarded scholarships since 2014, including two outstanding students who received it in 2019. Jennifer Polanco, a Boston International Newcomers Academy (BINcA) graduate, plans to study computer science at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and Djenabou Sow, a Boston Arts Academy graduate, plans to major in math and computer science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Jennifer and Djenabou are talented, driven young women and we are confident that they will excel in their studies and beyond.
In addition to financial support for tuition, fees, housing and books, the scholarship includes special access to our college internship program every summer the students are in school. This is important – it allows students to grow their work experience and build a network of relationships with our employees. These are critical factors to set up students for success in school and in their careers. We also partner with Bottom Line, an organization that provides mentoring and support to students before, during and after college. According to Bottom Line, “Students who participate in its Success Program graduate within 6 years at rates up to 43 percentage points higher than students who receive support only with college applications.” It is an incredible program that we are proud to support.
Both Jennifer and Djenabou are finishing the summer at Vertex as interns before they leave for college in the fall. We’re excited to be part of their journey and we look forward to watching these talented young women grow. Perhaps they will come back to Vertex after they graduate!
Either way, we can’t wait to see what they do next.