Addressing an audience including excited students and their proud family members at the Campus Center on Tuesday, Governor Deval Patrick announced that his administration has awarded $2 million in scholarships to 800 students throughout the Commonwealth’s public higher education system–including 100 students from UMass Boston.
The new Massachusetts High Demand Scholarship program provides funding for students pursuing degrees in the fields of health care, business, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). For recipients studying at UMass Boston, the scholarship reduces their tuition this semester by nearly half.
The scholarship program–which is the first of its kind to encourage students at public institutions to study STEM, health care, and business through financial incentives–was designed to create a better-educated work force to take jobs in fields which face, or will face, shortages of qualified employees, according to the state’s Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
To the crowd of UMass Boston students, faculty, staff, and administrators, Governor Patrick explained that the Massachusetts High-Demand Scholarship is intended to go beyond mere financial aid.
“This is about more than money,” he said. “In [Massachusetts], where our full economic growth depends on people getting the skills that they need for the economy that we are building… our investing in that and investing in you is also about investing in ourselves.”
Chancellor J. Keith Motley, Secretary of Education Matthew Malone, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland, Representative Tom Sannicandro, chair of the Joint Committee on Higher Education, and two scholarship recipients from UMass Boston joined Governor Patrick to speak about the program.
Motley congratulated the 100 scholarship recipients in the audience, and reminded Patrick that the majority of those who earned the scholarship are UMass Boston students. Of the 800 awards, more than half study at one of the UMass campuses, 28 percent attend other state universities, and 20 percent attend community colleges.
“We all understand the need to invest in developing homegrown talent, and I am so pleased that Governor Patrick has made this a priority,” Motley said.
Motley also invited sophomore Gifty Addae and junior Nick Krause to speak about how receiving the scholarship will help them as they study health care, business, and STEM subjects.
Addae, who is a double major in biochemistry and anthropology and works at the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and the Broad Institute at MIT, told the audience that she has loved science since she was a child. Her parents encouraged her dreams of becoming a scientist–but, she says, “Big dreams have limitations and those limitations come in the form of money. This scholarship means a lot.”
The state legislature approved the Massachusetts High-Demand Scholarship for this semester, in hopes of renewing it indefinitely when they convene to approve a budget for fiscal year 2014.