UC Irvine has been awarded $700,000 from The Rose Hills Foundation to support students in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) pursuits. Each year for the next four years, The Rose Hills Foundation Undergraduate Science & Engineering Scholarships will assist 18 high-achieving undergraduates. The students will meet with one another at regular intervals throughout the year to discuss their goals and share their experiences.

Irvine, Calif., Sept. 30, 2014 – UC Irvine has been awarded $700,000 from The Rose Hills Foundation to support students in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) pursuits. Each year for the next four years, The Rose Hills Foundation Undergraduate Science & Engineering Scholarships will assist 18 high-achieving undergraduates. The students will meet with one another at regular intervals throughout the year to discuss their goals and share their experiences.

“This exciting new partnership with The Rose Hills Foundation will ensure that some of our best and brightest STEM students reach their full potential,” said Chancellor Howard Gillman. “We are very grateful for this support and look forward to working with The Rose Hills Foundation to advance our shared goals.”

Excellence in science, technology, engineering and math has fueled American innovation for more than 50 years, and STEM education, which includes project-based learning, plays a critical role in ensuring that the U.S. remains the economic and technological leader of the 21st century global marketplace.

But serious questions are being raised about our future competitiveness in STEM areas. U.S. grade school students continue to underachieve in math and science, and a lower percentage of them go on to pursue STEM degrees than at any time over the past five decades.

STEM education is closely linked to our nation’s prosperity in the modern global economy because strong STEM skills are a central element of a well-rounded education and essential to high-level employment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than half of the 30 fastest-growing occupations projected through 2018 will require significant math or science preparation.

Higher education must enhance its offerings and help grade schools improve their delivery of STEM education in order to expand the capacity and diversity of the workforce pipeline. And support of STEM undergraduates is critical.

“From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank The Rose Hills Foundation for awarding me a scholarship that will allow me to focus on the academic, rather than financial, aspects of my schooling at UCI,” said Richelle Homo, a senior in chemistry. “This generous scholarship has enabled me to pursue my dream of becoming a physician, which will permit me to give back to my community and someday make a positive change in the world, much like The Rose Hills Foundation has.”

Nathan Cox, a UCI senior who is double majoring in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering, said: “I am exceedingly grateful for The Rose Hills Foundation’s generous support for the Undergraduate Science & Engineering Scholarship. It has great personal meaning to me, and with my sister starting her freshman year in college, it comes at a most opportune time.”

The Rose Hills Foundation has had a long-standing interest in supporting STEM undergraduates, summer research and young faculty in California. Funding recipients have included USC, UC Berkeley, Caltech, UCLA and other elite institutions of higher education.

For a listing of the 2014 recipients of The Rose Hills Foundation Undergraduate Science & Engineering Scholarships, visit: give.uci.edu/Rose-Hills-Foundation.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education and is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. Located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities, it’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.8 billion annually to the local economy.

Media access: UC Irvine maintains an online directory of faculty available as experts to the media at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists/experts/. Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UC Irvine faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UC Irvine news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

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