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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC increases aid to science scholars

Just one semester into its first year, the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program will nearly double in size.

At a White House summit on college affordability earlier this month, Chancellor Carol Folt committed to doubling a financial assistance program for science students next academic year. She also committed to expanding the Carolina College Advising Corps, which provides peer-advising to high school students, and increasing the graduation rates of minority students.

The Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program aims to increase the diversity of future science leaders by providing academic and financial support to a cohort of 20 minority students, and Folt aims to increase that number to 40 next year, which will cost $4 million over four years..

“Folt’s commitment to the program is outstanding especially considering the program is in its first year,” said Program Coordinator Lauren Thomas.

The science scholars program is modeled off the Meyerhoff Scholars Program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. The initiative includes a six-week summer program, said chemistry professor Joe Templeton.

“Last summer, the students were housed in Old East,” said Templeton. “Courses were possibly more challenging because of adjusting to living in the dorm and having their activities restricted.”

Students in the program receive $5,000 each semester for tuition and an additional $5,000 one summer to do science research.

In addition to financial support, students receive academic advising and assistance with applying to graduate school. Students in the program must be pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics, physics, natural science, engineering or computer science.

The program is not for students who are aiming to go to medical school. Thomas said she believes the program contributes to UNC’s reputation as a science school and not just a place to study medicine.

During summer 2013, students in the program took an argument-and-debate class, a math seminar and a course called “Navigating the Research University,” which aims to prepare students for research at UNC.

Templeton said one goal of the summer was to implement behavioral discipline that would carry over to the students’ college careers.

Freshman biology and physics double-major Dory Deweese, a participant in the program, said taking summer classes better prepared her for the fall workload.

Fellow program scholar, freshman biology major Kirsten Adams, said she has gained relationships with peers, tutors, teachers and friends through participating.

“Carolina is aware that there are systems that don’t allow every student that is an aspiring scientist to be a scientist,” Adams said. “Doubling the size of the program means it’s veering off into a great path of success.”

Templeton said he was excited about the chancellor’s investment in the sciences.

“When you have the chancellor going to the White House saying that she plans to double the size of the cohort, it just energizes everything.”

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