The Buick Achievers Scholarship Program, which is funded by the General Motors Foundation, has announced new scholarships equaling up to $2.5 million to 100 recipients looking to pursue a career in either science, technology, engineer, or mathematics, also known as STEM, information technology and other fields related to the automotive industry.
Over half of the scholarships be awarded to female students, according to GM.
Buick Achievers has awarded over $28 million in scholarships to $3,400 high school seniors and undergraduate students in four years since the program was introduced.
The program annually grants 100 students with up to $25,000 renewable for four years, and one additional year for those entering a qualified, five-year engineering program.
"Thanks to this scholarship, I can focus on my studies without having to worry about financial constraints," said Meri Mullins, 2014 Buick Achievers recipient and University of Toledo chemical engineering student, according to GM. "I've always been interested in understanding how the world works. It's my goal to instill this passion in future generations so they too can gain an interest and appreciation for STEM fields."
Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Of those who pursue a college major in STEM fields, about half choose to work in a related career.
The U.S. has fallen behind internationally in a number of those categories, ranking 25th in mathematics, and 17th in science among industrialized nations.
"Our Buick Achievers are evolving the face of STEM in that half are the first in their family to attend college, more than half are female and minorities make up the majority," said GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard. "These milestones are a positive indication that we're making great strides to pave the way for our industry's future leaders and innovators."
Of the 100 students being recognized, 61 percent are female. The milestone is big news since woman have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields. Half of the recipients are the first in their families to pursue a secondary education.
"It's imperative that young women who wish to pursue STEM-related careers are given every opportunity to make their dreams happen," said Greg Dehn, general manager and senior vice president, Scholarship America, according to GM. "By awarding more than half of their scholarships to female students, the GM Foundation encourages women to pursue a career in a traditionally male-dominated field.
"Buick Achievers' multi-year, renewable awards will not only make postsecondary education possible for these deserving students, they will also propel them through to graduation and a promising career in STEM."