Gaston College receives STEM scholarship funding

DALLAS – Gaston College has been awarded more than $600,000 from the National Science Foundation for scholarships and supplemental services, beginning in the fall 2014 semester.
Scholarships, up to $5,600 per year per student, will be awarded to select Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students enrolled full-time in the Associate of Science program at Gaston College.
Gaston College is the only community college in western North Carolina and only one of five in the state to offer such scholarships.
In response to a growing need for a well-trained STEM talent pool, Gaston College
has developed an initiative called SPARC3 (STEM Persistence and Retention through
Curriculum, Cohort, and Centralization) to promote persistence and graduation of
these students at the college. SPARC3’s mission is to ignite student curiosity and
prepare future STEM professionals for success in an evolving work environment.
SPARC3 Scholars scholarships are one element of the larger initiative.
The success of SPARC3 Scholars will be fostered by financial support, academic learning communities, mentoring, undergraduate research experiences, and supplemental group activities to aid in student learning and prepare students for future achievement.
Successful SPARC3 Scholars will complete the Associate of Science degree and
be provided assistance in applying for acceptance to four-year colleges and universities
for further study in STEM fields.
“Many of our students have obligations and must work while attending school to support themselves and sometimes their families,” said Heather Woodson, dean of Arts and Sciences. “These scholarships can provide a significant financial boost for students; as a result, they can reduce outside work hours and devote more time to their education.
“The supplemental services such as mentoring, tutoring, and learning communities have been shown to increase retention and graduation rates,” she said.
“Therefore, we expect to see additional Associate of Science students finishing their degree and transferring to a four-year institution as a result of this grant. The impact on the college will be very positive;
however, the impact on our students and community will be even greater.”
The Associate in Science degree consists of a minimum of 60 semester hours of college transfer courses. The degree is intended for students planning to transfer from a North Carolina community college to a four-year institution to pursue further study in a STEM discipline.
To apply for general college admission, apply online at www.cfnc.org/gastonapp or visit the admissions office at any campus location.
For specific information on the SPARC3 Scholars program, contact Ashley Hagler at hagler.ashley@gaston.edu.

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