JSU awarded $1M to create scholarship for financially needy students pursuing STEM degrees

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Jackson State University has been selected as the recipient of $1 million from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to create a scholarship for high-achieving students who have financial needs.

The university will also be tasked with creating an endowment fund to ensure that the scholarship remains intact indefinitely. Students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields will be given priority in the scholarship awarding process.

“This transformative gift is not just a financial contribution; it is an investment in the future leaders of our world, individuals who will undoubtedly shape the landscape of progress and discovery,” Jackson State President Marcus L. Thompson said. “By providing crucial financial support to talented students, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is empowering them to pursue their academic aspirations and unlock their fullest potential. This fund will also help them navigate economic barriers on their path to success.”

Jacqueline Jackson, Ph.D., who serves as the interim department chair in JSU’s Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science, shared that the funds will be used to establish the Jack Cooke Kent CSET Scholars Program. The program will provide selected STEM students with financial and professional support.

“The scholarship funds can be used toward tuition, fees, room, board, and textbook expenses. Scholarship amounts will vary based upon a student’s overall financial aid profile. In addition, we will provide students with opportunities to grow their professional portfolio as they prepare to enter the workforce,” Jackson explained.

According to the JSU’s Institutional Research, Planning, and Effectiveness, the College of Science Engineering and Technology is JSU’s largest department by enrollment with more than 1,280 undergraduates this past fall.

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education released an article in February 2023 stating that though African Americans are making progress in STEM Fields, a large racial gap remains. In 2021, African Americans were about 12% of the adult population in the United States but made up only 9% of the STEM workforce. About 18% of all Black workers were employed in STEM fields compared to 25% of all White workers and 39% of Asian workers.

“Our nation’s HBCUs are doing incredible work to serve underrepresented students both during college and also set them up for long-term success,” Cooke Foundation Executive Director Seppy Basili said. “As one of the largest HBCUs in the country, Jackson State University is empowering young people every year to earn their degrees and become leaders in their fields.”

Since 2000, the Cooke Foundation has awarded $282 million in scholarships to more than 3,300 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive academic advising, career pathway counseling, and other support services. The foundation has also provided $133 million in grants to organizations that serve such students.

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