Million-dollar grant opens FSC to less-privileged minds

Growing on the STEM: The National Science Foundation is helping Farmingdale State College attract talented but less-privileged science and math students.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A million-dollar gift from the National Science Foundation will help a classroom’s worth of science- and math-focused Long Island high schoolers enroll at Farmingdale State College.

All told, 32 students from six regional high schools will enjoy four-year, $20,000 scholarships, thanks to a $1 million S-STEM grant, the largest ever issued to Farmingdale State by the NSF.

Targeting academically talented, low-income students, the S-STEM awards – for Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – will usher freshmen into FSC in the Fall 2020 and Fall 2021 semesters.

Beverly Kahn: Workforce focus.

The scholarship winners – hailing from Uniondale Senior HS, Central Islip Senior HS, Brentwood High School, Connetquot HS, Bellmore-Merrick Central’s John F. Kennedy HS and South Huntington’s Walt Whitman HS – will also be invited to summer-study programs at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Rutgers University and other “partner institutions,” according to Farmingdale State.

Students who receive financial aid from other sources are still eligible. If an S-STEM recipient’s tuition is already covered by other financial aid, the $5,000 stipend can be applied to transportation, meal plans, books and other education-related expenses.

That flexibility makes the NSF scholarships a real difference-maker for smart students with “demonstrated financial need,” according to Beverly Kahn, director of Farmingdale State’s Research Aligned Mentorship program.

The $5,000-per-year awards aren’t a full ride – but for those less-privileged students, they will certainly smooth the sailing toward applied mathematics or biology degrees, Kahn said, at a time when such professionals are in high demand.

“This project will contribute to the national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians, by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students,” added Kahn, who wrote the successful NSF grant proposal.

While the $1 million S-STEM grant is the chunkiest NSF award Farmingdale State has so far landed, it’s not the first.

In February, FSC received a five-year, $300,000 NSF grant to help attract minority PhD students in the STEM fields, with the long-term goal of hiring them as full-time faculty.