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New scholarship program supports students in STEM fields

Eight talented UC Berkeley students are being rewarded for their hard work in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a new scholarship program by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.

Sather Gate

For eight talented first-year students this fall, studying at the University of California, Berkeley, will be a dream come true. Their hard work and extraordinary achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and their commitment to giving back to their communities, are being rewarded by a new scholarship program announced today (Monday, Aug. 26) by Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and the campus.

An investment by Thermo Fisher, the STEM Scholarship Program will allocate nearly $700,000 per year to scholarships at five institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom and China and help address the growing demand for a work force well-educated in STEM fields. In addition to UC Berkeley, the list includes the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; Imperial College of London and Fudan University.

At UC Berkeley, the eight students selected to receive this year’s scholarships each will receive up to $20,000 in support over the next four years — renewable at $5,000 a year. The program is expected to grow to include 32 students at UC Berkeley, adding up to $640,000 in potential scholarship support here in the next four years. Altogether at the five universities, the program will provide funding to 164 students.

“This generous commitment by Thermo Fisher advances two important goals for us,” said UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Harry Le Grande. “The partnership with UC Berkeley provides access to an excellent higher education for extremely talented undergraduates, and it engages our students to make the connection between their studies in STEM fields and their role in making a better world.”

The UC Berkeley students are also distinguished for having been selected as Chancellor’s Scholars and Regents’ Scholars — two of the most prestigious scholarships on campus.

For Bijal Patel of Anaheim, Calif., a UC Berkeley undergraduate education would have been out of reach without the STEM scholarship, and she said her arrival on campus this semester is a “huge opportunity” to pursue her dreams and a career in science.

“My favorite subject is biology, and I love science,” said Patel. “I look forward to the research opportunities at Berkeley and meeting great people. I’m excited for the new environment. I see this as the first big step for me.”

She cited her experience with the Junior Statesmen of America as key to breaking through her natural shyness and beginning to see new possibilities for herself: “I was shy, and the JSA gave me the courage to speak up and pushed me to do more. It ignited the fire for me.”

Brian Huang of West Covina, Calif. is also excited to be on campus this fall, thanks to the STEM scholarship.

“Berkeley has such a legacy in chemistry,” said Huang, who developed an interest in biology as a child and conducted his own chemistry experiments at home. He will pursue chemical biology as a pre-medical student and said he looks forward to the atmosphere and culture of the campus, which he described as offering something “different from any other university.”

“Thermo Fisher is dedicated to instilling a passion for STEM education in students who may one day be our employees, or our customers,” said Marc N. Casper, president and chief executive officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific. “By making education more accessible for some of the brightest young minds, we hope to positively impact industries that are using science to improve healthcare, the environment and public safety.”