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June 19, 2015
By Nikeila Jensen, media relations assistant
|Seven students recently graduated from Northwest and were among the first cohort to receive the National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship through Northwest. Pictured in the front row, left to right, are Kristian Shupe and Ismael Matos. In the back row, left to right, are Duncan Kelly, Travis Bruce, Nichole Justice, Erick Klix and Ashley Huskey.|
A group of recent Northwest Missouri State University graduates is more equipped to enter computer science fields with tools they developed through a scholarship program launched four years ago at the University.
Kristian Shupe, Ismael Matos, Duncan Kelly, Travis Bruce, Nichole Justice, Erick Klix and Ashley Huskey graduated from Northwest May 2 and were among the first cohort to receive the National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship through Northwest.
In 2011, the National Science Foundation awarded Northwest’s Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Information Systems with an S-STEM grant totaling $517,075 over five years. Through the grant, the department provided 25 scholarships; mentoring by faculty, peers and industry professionals; and research and internship opportunities.
“It is great to be able to provide financial support for students who are underrepresented in the field and thus enable them to pursue degrees in computing,” said Merry McDonald, recently retired professor of mathematics, computer science and information systems who served as the principal Investigator for the NSF S-STEM grant. “It has been especially rewarding to watch students gain confidence in their technical skills, hone their interpersonal and communication skills, and present their research at national conferences.”
The grant allowed the department to implement the project, “Using Socially Relevant Computing to Attract and Retain Computer Science Majors,” to spike interest in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Instructors sought talented students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM courses such as women, students from low-income families and minorities.
Monthly meetings helped the scholarship recipients network with Northwest alumni mentors and participate in conference opportunities.
“The NSF program helped prepare me for my job by allowing me to network with many different people,” said Huskey, who has begun her career as a technical support engineer for Lexmark Enterprise Software in Lenexa, Kan.
Students learned from their knowledgeable instructors, but also from professional mentors. Nichole Justice, a software engineer at Cerner in Kansas City, Mo., who also creates independent video games and artwork with other Northwest alumni, said she appreciated the professional mentoring program and is thankful for her experience and opportunities she received through the scholarship program.
“Being involved in it for the majority of my college career helped me network and get to know younger computer science students,” Justice said. “I could then share what I learned throughout my year and hopefully inspire them to get involved and explore programming as much as possible.”
In addition to Lexmark and Cerner, Northwest graduates who received the NSF scholarship are employed with companies such as Garmin International, Shelter Insurance and IBM.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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