Sen. Hirono Announces $1 M for STEM Scholarships

February 21, 2019, 11:30 AM HST · Updated February 21, 11:32 AM
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US Senator Mazie Hirono visited Maui on Wednesday, Feb. 20. During her visit, she addressed the Healthy Communities Initiative – a project that fosters collaboration between the health and community development sectors to secure a healthier future for all residents of Maui. PC: Mazie Hirono (2.20.19)

US Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaiʻi announced that the University of Hawaiʻi will receive $1 million in support from the National Science Foundation for a new project aimed at improving the pipeline of low-income students into science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM careers.

Designed to meet Hawaiʻi’s need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians, the competitive federal National Science Foundation funding will support a five-year project will fund annual scholarships for 24 students who are pursuing associate’s degrees and plan to complete bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields.

“In 2016, I brought the Senate Small Business Committee to Maui to learn more about the challenges and opportunities facing Hawaiʻi’s students and communities as we look to fill the good-paying STEM jobs that our economy needs,” Senator Hirono said. “Project Kiahūwaʻa is just the kind of initiative that I’ve been advocating for in Congress to help give our local students the opportunities and support they need to get into and stay in the STEM pipeline, earn their degree, and go on to fill existing STEM jobs or create new innovative businesses in Hawaiʻi.”

“This grant will increase the number of STEM graduates that our economy so desperately needs, and this grant will help remove some of the barriers that low-income scholars face,” said Dr. Michael Ferguson, Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.

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Designed as an innovative, culturally-appropriate academic program for University of Hawaiʻi Maui College low-income students to improve overall graduation and transfer rates to four-year institutions, Project Kiahūwaʻa: Advancing Low-Income Students in STEM through a Culturally-Appropriate Academic Journey, will provide scholarship recipients with STEM faculty mentoring. It will also provide students with opportunities to participate in leadership development activities, research, internships, and other activities.

During the 114th Congress, Senator Hirono convened national experts from the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, and the Office of Naval Research, as well as local stakeholders and students who participated in STEM programs, for a US Senate Small Business Committee field hearing at Maui High School to discuss the importance of federal programs that broaden participation in STEM, including those at NSF.

Senator Hirono has continued to advocate for federal programs that support women and minorities in STEM, and during the 115th Congress reintroduced her legislative plan to broaden participation in STEM, which included S.1270, the STEM Opportunities Act, to promote better coordination between federal science agencies and institutions of higher education and best practices for overcoming barriers that have limited the inclusion of underrepresented minorities in STEM. The plan also included the Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act.

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