UA nets nearly $1.2M to supercharge Choose Ohio First STEMM Scholarships for grad students


The Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) recently awarded The University of Akron (UA) $1,176,000 in support of its Choose Ohio First (COF) program. This grant marks a pivotal moment for UA as it expands the COF program, traditionally reserved for undergraduate students, to now benefit graduate students as well.

The Choose Ohio First scholarship program began as an effort to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing STEM programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities. UA started its Choose Ohio First Scholarship Program in 2009 with a grant from the State of Ohio, to provide financial assistance and additional resources to support undergraduate students majoring in the science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM) fields.

For the first 15 years of the program, UA’s Choose Ohio First program was focused solely on undergraduate students, but the latest grant will also help to support those who are pursuing graduate STEMM degrees at the University.

Dr. Suzanne Bausch, vice president for research and business engagement, and dean of Graduate School, emphasized the broader impact of this initiative, stating that the grant is designed to help build talent in the state and that the University plans to have graduate and undergraduate STEMM students working together to build partnerships. "Supporting those pursuing a degree in STEMM fields is crucial to the students and the future of the greater Akron community and the State of Ohio as a whole," she said.

UA’s Choose Ohio First Scholars come from diverse backgrounds and pursue various goals. The community includes students who would normally go out of state for a STEMM degree, those interested in STEMM but instead choose a different major, non-traditional students seeking to enhance or change their careers, former military personnel, individuals working in the STEMM industry and those underrepresented in STEMM disciplines.

Choose Ohio First STEMM scholarships are available to Ohio residents who major in a qualifying STEMM field. STEMM majors at UA include, but are not limited to: biology, chemistry, geology, exercise science, physics, computer science, computer information systems, engineering, engineering technology, mathematics, statistics, counseling, nursing, speech-language pathology/audiology and education (teaching mathematics or sciences).

Dr. Fedearia Nicholson-Sweval, vice provost for student pathways and dean of the Drs.[TE1]  Gary B. and Pamela S. Williams Honors College, highlighted the importance of Choose Ohio First in UA's mission to recruit and retain first-generation and underrepresented students in STEMM fields. She stated, "Choose Ohio First has been an important part of UA’s strategy to provide financial, academic and personal support leading to degree completion. With over a decade of successfully supporting undergraduate students, we are pleased to partner with the Graduate School with this most recent grant award to provide financial support to graduate students."

The funding not only aligns with UA's commitment to supporting students but also serves as a strategic initiative to further COF’s mission of fostering diversity and excellence in STEMM education, contributing significantly to the regional and statewide advancement of talent in these critical fields.

"The strength of Ohio's economy depends on having a skilled workforce in the STEM fields," said Chancellor Randy Gardner of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. "The University of Akron has done a great job of preparing its STEM scholars, and I am pleased to have The University of Akron among the latest Choose Ohio First awardees."

Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-687-9269,