â€œChoose Ohio First provides critical scholarship support to Ohio residents pursuing degrees in the growing science and technology career fields,â€ said Diane Stroup, associate professor of biochemistry at Kent State and director of the Choose Ohio First effort for the university. â€œThis innovative program is part of the stateâ€™s strategy to improve the economic health of Ohio. The money directly benefits Ohio taxpayers immediately by reducing studentsâ€™ tuition costs and by opening doors to satisfying careers.â€
Approximately 160 Kent State students are currently being supported by the Choose Ohio First program, according to Stroup.
Choose Ohio First scholarships are awarded to students who are studying in STEMM fields. Scholarship awards range from $1,500 to $5,200 per student, per academic year. During the past four years, more than $60 million dollars has been allocated for scholarships and has leveraged more than $32 million in matching funds from Ohio colleges and universities and their business partners.
â€œThis is a great opportunity for students to network with potential employers and to seek out internships,â€ said Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Jim Petro. â€œFor those graduating scholars, we congratulate them and encourage them to accept jobs in Ohio.â€
Benjamin Spott, a May 2010 Kent State biotechnology graduate, was one of the three student speakers at the event. Spott emphasized the advantages of science education and praised the Kent State administration for being responsive to student needs. He also highlighted the importance of internships and recalled that his Kent State education made him competitive for some great cooperative experiences, pointing out that he was the only student from a non-Ivy League school when he interned at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Choose Ohio First scholarships have been awarded to more than 4,000 students in 28 programs involving 41 Ohio public and private institutions during the past four years.
According to a report by the Center on Education and the Workforce, eight million new jobs will be available in STEMM-related fields by 2018. The Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program is part of the state's strategic effort to significantly strengthen Ohio's position in global markets such as aerospace, medicine, computer technology and energy.
Several scholars, including Kent State biotechnology student Alyssa Johnston, displayed their research projects at the showcase. Students also networked with businesses and connected with Ohio Means Jobs representatives. Ohio legislators and leaders also were in attendance to personally congratulate STEMM scholars.
Other attendees from Kent State included biotechnology students James Gillahan and Michael Roosa, biological sciences students Jeremy Shaw and James Whaley, and recent biotechnology graduates Joshua Lucas and Katherine Pollard.
â€œWeâ€™re grateful to Dr. Timothy Moerland, dean of Kent Stateâ€™s College of Arts and Sciences, for funding this important trip for our students so that they could be recognized in Columbus,â€ Stroup said.
For more information on the Choose Ohio First program, visit www.ohiohighered.org/chooseohio1st.