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September 14, 2022

Sacred Heart awarded $1.5M STEM scholarship grant 

Photo | Contributed Sacred Heart University students.

Students from underserved communities pursuing careers in computer science and engineering at Fairfield-based Sacred Heart University are getting a boost with college costs.

The National Science Foundation recently awarded SHU’s School of Computer Science & Engineering a $1.5 million grant to fund science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) scholarships over the next six years.

The grant will benefit 24 students — eight from the current freshman class and eight from each of the next two freshman classes — who are from underserved communities. The students will receive up to $9,500 annually during their four undergraduate years. 

The recipients will be selected from various majors, from computer science and game design to electrical engineering and cybersecurity.

The foundation’s STEM scholarship program seeks to increase the number of academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who go on to earn degrees in STEM fields. The program also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers.

“What excites us about this grant is that it’s a scholarship for students who really need it,” said Tolga Kaya, principal investigator of the grant and SHU’s director of engineering programs. “It’s going to help us bridge the gap.”

Kaya worked with SHU’s financial aid office to identify scholarship candidates among the current freshman class.

“The students initially didn’t believe it, because it was too good to be true,” he said. “Now, they are filling out the applications, and their stories are inspirational and heartbreaking at the same time. Learning about their struggles and their obstacles to come here makes you realize how many people take college for granted.”

Scholarship recipients also will receive grant-funded, paid summer internships with nonprofit Bridgeport-area community partners during their first two years at SHU to serve as STEM mentors for middle and high school students in underserved communities.

Catherine McCabe, Welch College of Business & Technology dean, said the scholarships will help educate future leaders in the computer science and engineering fields.

“This grant makes it possible for a talented group of students to develop and learn as engineers in state-of-the-art facilities with dedicated and passionate faculty,” McCabe said.

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