STEM Scholars

Elizabeth Luke (left) and Kirstin Amisano (right) are two of Onondaga's initial STEM Scholars.
Elizabeth Luke (left) and Kirstin Amisano (right) are two of Onondaga’s initial STEM Scholars.

OCC’s highly successful STEM Scholars program is continuing into the future. A recent grant totaling nearly $600,000 from the National Science Foundation ensures students in specific programs will have both merit and need-based funding into the foreseeable future. Acceptance into the program is both merit-based and need-based. Selected STEM scholars receive scholarships up to $5,000 per semester, and are also supported by peer mentors, faculty mentors, and are encouraged to engage in internship opportunities that will prepare them for their transfer and career choices.

The STEM scholars program is an entry point for students interested in pursuing a career within a growing industry. New York State ranks 3rd in the nation for projected growth in STEM jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 477,000 STEM-related jobs will be available in New York by 2018.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Onondaga offers nine different STEM degree programs:

  • Computer Forensic Science
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering Technology
  • Engineering Science
  • Environmental Technology
  • Math and Science Liberal Arts
  • Mechanical Technology
  • Nuclear Technology

Students selected to be STEM Scholars at OCC receive a scholarship renewable each semester provided they maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average and continue full-time progress toward their associate degree.

Associate Professor of Biology Maryann Page oversees the STEM Scholars program. “We’re thrilled the program will be continuing and growing into the future,” said Page. “Our incoming students will be mentored by returning students in the program. We will meet with incoming scholars on a weekly basis to keep in touch with them and monitor their progress. This type of guidance will be invaluable.”

During the spring 2014 semester 16 students were part of OCC’s first class of STEM Scholars. One of them was Elizabeth Luke who came to the College from East Syracuse Minoa High School. Luke is pursuing a Mathematics and Science degree. After graduating in May 2015 she’s planning to take advantage of the College’s “2+2 partnership agreement” with SUNY Upstate Medical University and enroll in its medical biotechnology program.

Kirstin Amisano is also one of the College’s initial 16 STEM Scholars. She’s a 2013 graduate of Baldwinsville High School whose love for science began in 6th grade when she participated in a career research project. After graduating in May 2015 she also plans to take advantage of the College’s “2+2 partnership agreement” with St. John Fisher College. “My grandfather went to school there, and it’s always been where I wanted to go,” said Amisano.

It was a busy summer for Onondaga students with STEM majors. Luke worked on a bacteria research project at Syracuse University thanks to a research scholarship she earned. Her project will have her engaged in cutting-edge biotechnology research throughout the upcoming academic year as well. Three STEM Scholars in the Nuclear Technology degree program learned important on-the-job training through internships at Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station (Daniel Loveless and Eric Schreiber) and at National Grid (Jason Densmore).

“It’s so wonderful for our students to engage these opportunities during the summer,” said Page. “When our students graduate we want them to be armed with both knowledge learned in our classroom and valuable on-the-job training experience.”

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