Bragging Rights: Education Student Receives STEM Scholarship

Posted: September 27, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: September 27, 2010 at 8:18 am

By Robin Herron

Master’s of education student Caroline Gergel, center, receives her $5,000 scholarship check from Fred Rainbow, executive director of the AFCEA Educational Foundation. Also pictured is Erin Peters Burton, assistant professor, College of Education and Human Development. Photo by Thayne Bohman

Caroline Gergel, BA Biology ’10 and a student in the master’s of education curriculum and instruction program, recently was awarded $8,000 in scholarships and grants from the AFCEA Educational Foundation, which supports the development of engineers and technical personnel through awards, prizes, scholarships, grants and professional educational programs.

The $5,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Teachers Scholarship Gergel received is part of a national, competitive scholarship program for students planning to teach in the STEM fields at the middle or high school level. Thirty-five scholarships were awarded this year.

In addition, once Gergel is in a teaching position, she will receive a $1,000 AFCEA Science Teaching Tool Grant each year for three years, provided she continues to teach a STEM subject. The grants are intended to augment the needs of the STEM teacher to enrich the learning experience of his or her students.

Gergel, whose concentration is biology, expects to complete her degree program next fall, although she will complete her licensure requirements to teach in Virginia in spring 2011.

A full-time student, Gergel also works part-time through the College of Science tutoring undergraduates in writing in the sciences.

Gergel says her long-term goal is to teach high school biology locally.

Winning the scholarship made her feel “fabulous,” Gergel says.

“It is a very generous financial boost that was gratifying to receive on two fronts: as a tangible commendation for my due diligence as an undergraduate majoring in biology here at Mason (graduating summa cum laude with better than a 3.9 GPA was no small feat!), and it also represents some reassurance that I will likely be competitive as I soon enter a very tight job market.”

According to a news release from AFCEA, which is based in Fairfax, Va., the scholarships were awarded as part of the foundation’s three-year initiative aimed at addressing the nation’s shortfall in STEM education. AFCEA hopes to encourage approximately 5,000 students over a three-year period to pursue STEM studies and careers.

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