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Seminole State secures National Science Foundation grant for STEM diversity

SSC Dr. Maya Byfield

Seminole State College of Florida has secured a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to form the NSF Leaps and Bounds S-STEM Scholarship program. The grant has a maximum award size of $650,000 to be used to improve learning experiences and support programs for student progression. Student scholarships will make up 60 percent of the use of the funding for full two-year scholarships for those pursuing a biology-related degree.

The grant aims to increase and diversify the students graduating and seeking STEM careers, through establishing an official mentorship program, student cohorts and other progression support services. The project will focus on recruiting underrepresented minorities and women into STEM programs.

“Diversity in the field leads to better strategies, innovation and competitive advantages,” said Seminole State Professor of Biological Science Dr. Maya Byfield who is managing the grant. “For the benefit of our students, STEM careers are consistently found to be a good investment as there are a lot of career opportunities. Our faculty mentors will go through mentor training as well as cultural responsiveness training to ensure that all students have the proper support that they need, regardless of their background.”

The project will last five years, and the first cohort was chosen in August 2020. The student cohort will have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research as well as attend social activities and workshops to enhance their engagement in their STEM education.

“I was honored and stoked to become a part of this program,” said Seminole State student Christoph Watson. “The best part is having people in your corner who just want to see you succeed. My mentor, Dr. Byfield, understands my faults and she’s helping me to be a better student and leader, and that means a lot because I want to be the best I can be. This program is lining me up for success academically and in many other areas. I’m infinitely thankful for the opportunity and community.”

To learn more about the Leaps and Bounds S-STEM Scholarship, visit


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