UC Merced launches new STEM scholars program

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A North Valley College is taking action to encourage students in the career fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Senior physics student Zachary Mauri still remembers the moment he chose UC Merced as his new home.

"It was more Merced chose me," said Mauri. "I liked that Merced was really new, the faculty members were really young."

Four years later, he's graduating with a competitive degree in the STEM field and heading to Stanford graduate school this fall. He says it's all thanks to the guidance he's received from UC Merced.

"As an undergrad that knows nothing, it's nice to have someone that will pay attention to you and hold your hand through the research process," said Mauri.

But the journey as a STEM student isn't always easy. That's why the North Valley college is introducing the Bobcat STEM Scholars Program this year.

"It's more than a scholarship, said Physics Professor Brian Utter. "It's a program to support their education as well."

The four-year program will provide 10 students with up to $8,000 a year. The group will take a common cohort class and have access to early research experiences.

"The idea of the program is to support students who have significant financial needs," said Utter.

For many students, majoring in STEM can be costly since the time-intensive courses make it difficult to take on a side job.

"It's the labs," explained Mauri. "The upper-division labs can be 6-7 hours long and those are days of the week you can't do anything else."

Ten incoming freshmen will be chosen each year. Over 50 students have applied this round and staff will start the selection process next week.

The scholarship is funded by a $1.4 million grant by the National Science Foundation.
Copyright © 2022 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.