Award promotes education in STEM

Tribune News Service

The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation allows four candidates from an institution to be nominated for the chance to win the prestigious and competitive scholarship honoring Senator Barry Goldwater.

This scholarship, initiated Nov. 14. 1986, is offered by the federally endowed agency to college sophomores and juniors who are pursuing STEM related careers and education.

Because of a partnership with the Department of Defense National Defense Education Programs (NDEP), 496 students out of over 5,000 applicants will be awarded for the 2019-2020 academic year, an increase from previous years, according to The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation website.

Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, director of the NDEP program, explained the new partnership.

“It is vitally important that the Nation ensures that it has the scientific talent it needs to maintain its global competitiveness and security,” Pamulapati said. “We saw partnering with the Goldwater Foundation as a way to help ensure the U.S. is developing this talent.”

Bryan Hamilton, professor of biology, was tasked with being the point person for this opportunity at Waynesburg University.

“This is the first year students have applied for the scholarship so I’m learning with them as we go through this process,” Hamilton said. “They go through a multi-stage online process; they upload their initial pre-applications and I go through that. Then if I accept that, they move on to the next stage of the process.”

Hamilton explained that better communication is key in attaining applicants for this school year, as the scholarship has been offered before with no takers.

“I didn’t have any applicants for many years until this year. I think that was partly a communication error in getting the word out to students,” Hamilton said. “As I received information from the scholarship foundation I forwarded it to be sent out to the students; word got out this year because we’ve done a better job with advertising.”

Hamilton is responsible for the reference letters, gathering them and getting them to the reviewers at the Goldwater Scholarship Foundation prior to January 31st.

Four students from Waynesburg University have begun the process, with two being moved to the next steps.

“If they’ve begun the process, I’ll move them along to the next step. Each institution can nominate a maximum of four so right now I only have four that are interested,” Hamilton said. “So, as long as they are appropriate candidates, all four can be forwarded on as nominees.”

This scholarship places a significant emphasis on the importance of research in mathematical, scientific and engineering fields.

“The scholarship is meant to promote science and engineering education with an eye towards fostering students who are in those programs and looking forward to going to graduate school,” Hamilton explained.

Though the chance to land this scholarship hovers just around ten percent, winning it is an invaluable opportunity, Hamilton said.

“A scholarship to any student is a big deal. I don’t have to tell you college is expensive so anywhere you can get support is important,” Hamilton said. “As an undergraduate scholarship goes, it’s well recognized for being pretty competitive. Students who get them are generally going on to bigger, better things.”

Hamilton is excited for the possibilities this scholarship may open up to applicants at Waynesburg and it waiting to see how it plays out.

“As we go through the process I’ll get a better understanding of all things involved,” Hamilton said.