Is a STEM scholarship in your future?

Prof. Frank Gonzalez, Science Student Leomar Patam, and Prof. Jim Zoval discuss an experiment (Cathy Lee Taylor)

Cathy Lee Taylor

The Saddleback Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) departments have made it possible for students to receive scholarships when the new grant program begins in 2013.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) granted Saddleback College $567,000 for their S-STEM programs to help fund students in need of financial support.  Approximately 14-20 students per year will receive scholarships that average $9,200 per individual for each enrolled year. Recruiting efforts focus on under-represented populations such as women, Hispanics and African Americans, as well as Veterans.
“The bulk of these scholarships will fund textbooks and research projects. We also want students to experience more field trips and other team-building activities,” Dr. Christopher McDonald, Dean of Math & Science, said.
“I can attest to the fact that we have a shortage of students who train in our STEM fields; especially chemistry and biology,” McDonald said. “I also see this lack when we try to hire. Not enough students are going into these fields and it’s not easy to find these kinds of grants. We take pride in our programs and want to continue to bring more resources to students choosing to attend Saddleback College.”
In addition to providing financial support, STEM scholars get the chance to do extra-curricular activities in research or, for example, computer applet development. They are also directly supervised by faculty mentors and research collaborators.
Frank Gonzalez, Associate Professor, Math, has some ideas on why Saddleback has to compete for students in the STEM divisions, “There is a misunderstanding that a community college is a ‘second choice,’ when it comes to such programs as math or engineering, and it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“The great thing about our college is that the quality of math education both freshman and sophomore students receive at Saddleback College is just as good as any Cal State school, and our students get much more contact with professors. It’s not unusual for me to spend my lunch talking to one of my students. We really promote a sense of belonging and family to these kids with shared interests and goals.
“It is also much less expensive to attend Saddleback and obtain the “prep courses” needed to get into other schools.  The STEM programs are all designed to transfer very well, and for those kids who do not get accepted into their coveted school of choice at first, they can attend Saddleback and come out way more prepared to get their application accepted the next time they try.”
What kind of career are you considering?
Eight of the S-STEM programs are in associate degrees (except engineering which qualifies for the scholarship but is not a full AA program) and are part of the grant participation: astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, geology, computer science, engineering, and marine science.
Astronomy graduates can work in national observatories, laboratories or in academia as well as private industry. 
Research biologists study the natural world and go into healthcare careers, environmental management and conservation.
Chemistry jobs cover diverse fields such as; agriculture, biotechnology, chemical engineering, forensics, geochemistry, water and textiles. Find out more about your career options here:
Popular careers choices for mathematics students include: teaching, actuarial science, computer science, operations research, biomathematics, cryptography, and finance.
Physics covers specialized fields including: acoustics, astronomy, and astrophysics to medical physics, geophysics, and vacuum sciences. 
Most geoscientists work as explorers for new mineral and hydrocarbon resources, consultants on engineering and environmental problems, researchers, teachers, writers, editors, and museum curators.
Get more information on just what a geoscientist does here:
Computer Science
Here are the 10 fastest-growing jobs in the computer science field: Computer and Information System Management, Computer Scientist, Computer Support Specialist, Systems Analyst, Systems Designer, Programmer, Database Administrator, Network Administrator, Network System Analyst and Software Engineer.
Engineers problem solve in various branches of engineering including: aerospace, agricultural, biomedical, chemical, civil, computer hardware, electrical, electronics, environmental, industrial, materials, mechanical, mining, geology, nuclear and petroleum.
Marine Science Technology
Marine Science Technicians answer the demand for: navigation, vessel operation, marine systems, equipment as well as scientific expertise.
As a Marine Science Technology Seamanship graduate you can become crew and operators of ocean-going vessels, as well as technicians to assist scientists, engineers, and research personnel both ashore and onboard.
To find out more about the program including how and when applications will be accepted, you can contact Frank Gonzalez at

STEM students visit NASA