Kent State Awarded $960,000 in Choose Ohio First Scholarships to Strengthen State’s STEM Workforce

The Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation have announced that Kent State University will receive $960,000 in new scholarships through the Choose Ohio First program that supports students in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“We are very excited and grateful for the generous support for our students in this impactful program,” said Lique Coolen, Ph.D., assistant to the provost for special projects, assistant director of Kent State’s Brain Health Research Institute and professor of biological sciences, who also serves as program lead for Choose Ohio First at Kent State. “This award highlights the state’s commitment to higher education, and we are dedicated to educating and developing students to help meet the state’s need for STEM-trained professionals.”

The new Choose Ohio First resources will greatly enhance STEM education at Kent State, with a focus on health- and medicine-related undergraduate and graduate programs for a diverse population of Ohio students. The goal is to provide students enrolled in these programs with affordable higher education and career opportunities in Ohio and fill the statewide need for professionals in jobs in healthcare. Students in five Kent State colleges – the College of Arts and Sciences; the College of Communication and Information; the College of Education, Health and Human Services; the College of Nursing; and the College of Public Health – are eligible for these scholarships.

Kent State is among the 45 Ohio public and independent colleges and universities to be selected as the new Choose Ohio First award recipients in Fiscal Year 2023 that will support an estimated 3,400 students pursuing STEM degrees and certificates. Of the nearly $28 million awarded, Kent State received the highest award to a public university and tied for the highest amount awarded to all Ohio institutions ($959,999.94).

“Choose Ohio First is an important part of Ohio’s strategy to develop STEM talent in our state,” wrote Randy Gardner, Ohio Department of Higher Education chancellor, in his award letter to the Kent State president. “As such, this administration has committed more than $161.3 million over the past four years to STEM and STEM Education scholarships. Your support and your institution’s commitment to high-quality STEM programs that meet the needs of Ohio’s employers is essential to the success of this strategy.”

The Choose Ohio First program began in 2008 to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing STEM programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities. Higher education institutions are vital engines for workforce vitality in the state, and the Choose Ohio First program provides support that will advance the economic growth of each region in the state. Designated Choose Ohio First programs are integrated with regional economies, meeting statewide educational needs, facilitating the completion of baccalaureate degrees in a cost-effective manner and recruiting underserved STEM student groups, including women and students of color. 

Recipients of the Choose Ohio First scholarships are required to participate in a work-based learning opportunity, such as a STEM internship, co-op or research experience, to help them transition effectively to the STEM workforce after graduation.

Kent State holds the esteemed distinction of being one of only five institutions in Ohio to be recognized as an R1 top-tier research university by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

For more information about the Choose Ohio First program at Kent State, visit

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Photo Caption:
Kent State University nursing students receive hands-on learning experience by practicing on a simulator.

Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Tuesday, December 13, 2022 03:00 PM
Updated: Saturday, January 21, 2023 08:23 AM
Emily Vincent