A $1.4 million federal grant awarded to California State University, Bakersfield will provide scholarships for up to 15 science and math students per year over five years.
Dubbed Project SMART Grad - for Science and Math Achievement with Research and Technology - the program seeks to recruit top science and math students from area high schools and provide them with a scholarship program aimed at getting them into graduate school.
Jennifer Stevens, director of Project SMART Grad, said the program is "a four-year scholarship program for freshmen to come in and major in math or science. It provides instructional and motivational support to get the students into graduate school. Our goal is to increase the number of students from Cal State Bakersfield that go to graduate school."
The grant, through the Office of Naval Research, will fund the program for five years. The grant pays for the director, publicity and recruitment. It will also pay for each participating student's annual fees, books, research project needs, and provide a cost of living stipend for four years.
"We want the students to focus on coursework rather than seek outside employment to put themselves through school," Stevens said. "This will allow them to fully concentrate on their studies and their research. It averages nearly $18,000 per student over the four years. We'll have a maximum of 15 students in the program per year."
Selina Ganopole, dean of CSUB's Division of Graduate Studies and Research, applied for the grant, which was accompanied by letters of support from the University of California campuses at Riverside and Los Angeles.
Ganopole said she is looking forward to the partnership developing between CSUB and the two UC campuses. "This is an outstanding opportunity," she said. "Students will benefit from a concerted effort on the part of faculty and admin at both CSUB and UCR and UCLA."
Stevens said the program is renewable, and that CSUB will apply for another grant at the end of the five years.
The students will also participate in CSUB's Helen Louise Hawk Honors program.
Stevens said the campus is recruiting the first class of Project SMART Grad students this year to begin in the fall 2000.
"Currently we are involved in recruitment and getting the word out," she said. "We'll enroll Project SMART Grad students in the Summer Bridge program, which starts a week after commencement in June." The Summer Bridge program is designed to help incoming freshmen make the transition to college.
Following Summer Bridge, the Project SMART Grad students will embark on a four-week science and math orientation program, including the principles of research, prior to the start of the fall quarter.
"One of the purposes of the SMART Grad program is to generate more interest in math and science, and research in those areas, and to encourage minority students to enter those fields," she said. "We have research projects at China Lake, and possibly at Edwards Air Force Base and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. There are a lot of opportunities out there for research projects."
One of the CSUB professors working on Project SMART Grad is biology professor Linda Wells.
"This is a wonderful program," Wells said. " It will enable promising students to get an education for free. I very much look forward to working with our first SMART Grad students next year."
Those interested in applying for the program should contact Stevens at 661/664-2456, or e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News