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Majors & Degrees

DSU awarded grant to help low-income STEM students

November 15, 2023

A new scholarship opportunity is available for Dakota State University students majoring in the STEM fields of computer science, cyber operations, artificial intelligence, or math.

Through a National Science Foundation grant of almost $1 million, Dakota State University students will have the opportunity to receive financial assistance and other support with Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S-STEM) funding. This initiative is designed to support the academic and professional growth of talented STEM students, particularly from low-income backgrounds, such as those eligible for Pell grants.

Prior to submitting the grant proposal, Dr. Rich Avery said they conducted a review of the student population and found about 150 individuals in that category. This means “there is a substantial need in South Dakota, and at DSU,” he said. Avery is a Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences.

The six-year grant program is a joint project between the College of Arts & Sciences and The Beacom College of Computer & Cyber Sciences. Avery and colleagues, Drs. Mark Spanier, Viki Johnson, Tom Halverson, and Hannah Altmann created the program titled, “Building a Sense of Belonging for Talented, Low-Income Students through Engagement.” It will impact six DSU students in each of two cohorts,  providing each student up to $15,000 annually for up to five years, totaling $75,000 in scholarships for each student. Applications will be accepted this spring, with the first cohort to start in fall 2024. The University is well-positioned for additional funding in the near future.

The grant provides support structures to carry students through their studies, said Dr. Peter Hoesing, Associate Vice President for Research & Economic Development. Examples include help with certain math courses, supplemental instructions, study groups, and intensive advising. Avery explained that the grant also provides for undergraduate research opportunities, including funding for conference travel and research publication costs.

Dr. Viki Johnson, Associate Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, will track student progress and success. “It’s important to have a social scientist involved,” said Hoesing. “This will provide a more intensive level of continuous monitoring than most sponsored programming, because it’s all about student success.” 

Dr. Rebecca Hoey, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, echoed that sentiment.

“Student success is our primary goal at Dakota State University,” Hoey said. “This interdisciplinary partnership demonstrates the University’s commitment to promote that success for every student by providing the support students need to gain both academic excellence and industry-relevant skills.”

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