Professor Widera-Kalinowska works with a student conducting an experiment in her lab. Both are wearing lab coats. The student is also wearing protective glasses and gloves and is about to pour a solution into a beaker.
Justyna Widera-Kalinowska, PhD, a professor of chemistry, works with a student in her lab. The grant from the National Science Foundation will support students majoring in chemistry as well as other STEM majors.

A $2.49 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, the largest ever received from the NSF by the University, will fund scholarships for high-achieving, Pell-eligible students from local high schools who want to major in STEM fields.

Adelphi is about to help at least 25 high-achieving, Pell-eligible students from local high schools prepare for careers in advanced field.

The University will be providing scholarships for them to earn degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Adelphi can do this thanks to a $2.49 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant is the largest the NSF has ever awarded Adelphi.

The new initiative is called the “Ensuring STEM Student Success Through an Integrative Support Program.” Scholarships are only part of the program. Students will also receive support from mentors and research opportunities, all designed to encourage persistence to graduation as well as preparation for their career or graduate study.

Photo of Andrea Ward, who is standing outside with trees in the background.

Andrea Ward, PhD, associate provost for research and special projects, led the effort to secure the NSF grant and is the lead on the project.

“The program will increase access to education,” said Andrea Ward, PhD, associate provost for research and special projects. “And we want to make sure that every student who starts in this program graduates from the program, just as we want to make sure that every STEM student graduates from their chosen program.”

Students for the program will be recruited primarily from schools in two Long Island towns, Westbury High School and Freeport High School. Both are within 10 miles of Adelphi’s campus. “We chose these high schools because they are local and have a strong population of students that we thought would benefit from this type of program,” Dr. Ward said. The program is open to qualified students in all area high schools, however.

A Support Network Comes With the Scholarships

To be eligible for these STEM scholarships, students must be eligible for Pell Grants and have a high school GPA of at least 3.0. There will be two four-year cohorts of students. The program will recruit 12 to 13 high school students for the Fall 2024 and Fall 2025 first-year classes. Students will receive up to an additional $15,000 per year on top of their financial aid package from Adelphi. If they live at home, the scholarships will cover all their college expenses.

The support system provided the students is a critical component of the program, giving them the tools, experiences and networks they need to succeed in school and in their STEM career.

The cohort is the foundation of this support and a key to retention in the program. Students will learn and experience college together. “This group of students will have twice-monthly activities,” Dr. Ward explained. “They’ll get career-development sessions. They’re all going to take a First-Year Seminar together in the fall semester.”

Each student will receive one-to-one guidance from a trio of mentors—a faculty mentor, a peer mentor and an alumni mentor. Adelphi will partner with area employers, including Brookhaven National Laboratory, Thorlabs and Photonix, to work with students in career development sessions.

Students will also spend two summers of paid, full-time research with Adelphi faculty, along with opportunities to attend scientific conferences.

“The goal is to prepare them for advanced studies or placement in the workforce,” Dr. Ward said.

Dr. Ward has begun doing outreach to local high schools, visiting Westbury and Freeport to talk to students about the program. But Pell Grant-eligible students at any high school in the area will also be contacted about the new STEM scholarships. “Any student who applies to Adelphi and fits the major and high school GPA will automatically get a letter about the program,” Dr. Ward said.

A History of Success Helping Students Succeed

Dr. Ward, who led the effort to secure this historic grant, is the lead on the project, but a group of Adelphi faculty were involved in developing the program and will help with its execution, including members from each of the University’s STEM departments: physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, and environmental studies and sciences.

Adelphi was selected for this grant in part because of its demonstrated success with helping members of underrepresented groups launch STEM careers, Dr. Ward said. “Our CSTEP program has had great success,” she said. The fact that the program focuses on local students also made Adelphi stand out from the grant-seeking crowd. “There are many future members of the STEM field workforce right here in our own backyard,” Dr. Ward said. “This program allows us to tap into local talent.”

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