FAST to support disadvantaged STEM students


The UTSA College of Sciences was recently granted $640,000 by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create a scholarship program that caters to the needs of economically underprivileged students interested in pursuing careers in biology, chemistry and physics. The university will use these funds to create the Facilitated Access to Scientific Training (FAST) scholarship that will award up to $10,000 a year and provide degree guidance to students. The scholarship specifically targets students in the Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP).

“I’m really excited about building a pipeline of students that I don’t think we have been that successful in attracting,” said George Negrete, UTSA chemistry professor and FAST program principal creator. “These should be high-flying students, so they’re probably being attracted all over the place. This is a way to attract them to UTSA,” Negrete continued.

The PREP program is a university-sponsored program that prepares middle and high school students for careers in math, science, technology and engineering.

Negrete sees the FAST scholarship as a perfect way to draw the attention of the students who participate in PREP to UTSA.

“I had been looking for a program that would support PREP students who’ve been taking enrichment courses in mathematics with the PREP program by providing scholarships and encouraging them to come to UTSA,” said Negrete.

“For a long time we’ve run these PREP programs, and we really haven’t taken advantage of all the students who’ve interacted with us because they’ve been in these programs. The FAST scholarship gives us a real opportunity to attract these students,” explained Negrete.

An eligible FAST scholarship applicant must have earned a high school GPA of 3.3 or higher, scored at least a 1200 on the SAT, completed advanced placement high school courses, submitted a one page career goal statement and demonstrated an interest in earning a degree in biology, chemistry or physics. The FAST scholarship program will debut Fall 2015. “This should strengthen the academic rigor of our programs and should also boost our percentage of graduates at four- and six-year rates,” said Negrete about the positive effects this scholarship will have on the university.