Last week, the University announced it will provide free tuition to students whose families make $50,000 or less a year, putting college within reach for more Minnesota students. It’s a great move and one that also serves as a tangible step toward greater equity.
Making sure every student is able to afford an education and get a degree with as little debt as possible is a cornerstone of efforts in the College to increase the number of four-year scholarships that we offer to undergraduates. We went from zero to more than 100 in the last five years and raised over $15 million for student support over the course of the Campaign for the College of Biological Sciences. But there’s more work to do.
Creating space for students to pursue research and engage in other extracurricular activities positions them for success. Recent graduate Destiny Weaver credits scholarship support with giving her the time to pursue research and mentoring opportunities. Not only was she able to pursue her interests, but in doing so provided peer mentoring to underrepresented students in the sciences. She received a Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity Award for her work with underrepresented students through the Louis Stokes North Star STEM Alliance. Destiny is currently a research assistant in a University lab and is preparing to apply to medical school. You can read her story here.
Every student deserves the same chance to realize their full potential. But to make that happen requires resources. With that in mind, our post-campaign priorities include supporting undergraduate research, and connecting students with internships and career opportunities.
Access to research experiences is one of the biggest advantages we can offer our students. We know that those experiences position them for success in industry and graduate school. But many students cannot afford to volunteer in labs or accept unpaid internships with companies and nonprofits.
Our goal going forward is to provide financial support for those who need it to participate in these activities. Making this happen also requires faculty to offer undergraduate students research opportunities in their labs. It is now easier than ever for faculty to post opportunities and students to find them using our new GopheResearch tool. Check it out!