RACINE — Gateway Technical College announced a $5.5 million gift from SC Johnson that will provide four-year scholarships to women and people of color interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.
According to Catalyst, women in the U.S. hold just 36.1% of bachelor's degrees in all STEM fields. Women of color make up just 14.1% of STEM-related bachelor's degrees.
The SC Johnson STEM Scholars Pathway will award 18 scholarships yearly for the next 10 years. According to a press release, "high school graduates who live within the Racine Unified School District and attend a High School within Racine County" are eligible for the scholarship.
Scholars in the program will start their education at Gateway and can finish their bachelor's degree at MSOE, Carthage College or Concordia University Wisconsin.
Tori Starkey, an electronics technician, graduated from Gateway last year. She said she was maybe one of two women of color in her class. By the time she had graduated, she said the number had started to grow.
"I love math and science, and I know I'm not the only African-American woman out here that loves math and science," Starkey said. "Don't get discouraged and think 'this is predominantly that, and I'm not that so I can't be a part of something great.' You already are part of something great."
Wendy Revolinski is a software developer and instructor for web at Gateway. She spoke to the importance of diversity helping to advance STEM fields.
"If we only have one set of people that are creating those products, we're missing something," Revolinski said. "Having diversity of gender and race, everybody is represented and brings something different to the table to solve business problems and just bring a different approach."
And more representation could inspire even more young students to enter STEM-related fields.
"My niece, for her birthday, my sister bought her this lab coat, and this little chemistry set, and the safety glasses. And she's taking pictures and sending them and is like, 'I wanna be like my aunt,'" Starkey said.
The scholarship is available for this upcoming school year, the deadline to apply is April 1.
More information about the scholarship and how to apply can be found here.