KSU scholars attend showcase in Columbus

Carrie Blazina

Jeremy Shaw always heard you should “pick something you love and stick with it,” so when he fell in love with biology in high school he just stuck with it.

“With biology, we’re always learning new things and there’s no limit to what we can accomplish,” Shaw said. “It blows me away, really.”

Shaw, a sophomore biology major, was one of Kent State’s scholar representatives at the Jan. 23 Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine Scholars Showcase in Columbus. Shaw said the showcase was a combination of a job fair, a series of speakers and a presentation of student research.

The attendees were all recipients of scholarships from Choose Ohio First, a program encouraging students to pursue STEMM jobs in Ohio. The program is in its fourth year, and according to a Kent State press release the program has allocated $60 million in scholarships in the last four years.

Diane Stroup, the Choose Ohio First coordinator for Kent State and an associate biotechnology professor, said students with a STEMM major who meet the scholarship’s academic criteria can apply. Depending on the program they are in and their financial need, they can receive from $1,500 to $4,700 a year.

Stroup said the scholarship is renewable for all four years of undergraduate study as long as the student maintains a 3.0 GPA. She said she wishes the program were more popular and well-known among students.

“I just don’t think they are going to say ‘no’ to money,” she said. “I need to know who they are, though; I need them to apply.”

Shaw said he got lucky and happened to see a flyer about the Choose Ohio First program when he was visiting Kent State as a high school student.

“[The scholarship] was one of the biggest deciding factors in coming to Kent, to be honest,” Shaw said. “It essentially made my decision.”

James Whaley, a senior biology/pre-med major and scholarship recipient, said he wishes he had known earlier than his junior year about the program.

“If I would have known about it earlier, I would definitely have done this as early as I could have,” he said.

The press release said Choose Ohio First has helped about 4,000 students across the state through 28 programs and 41 institutions.

The event in Columbus recognized more than 500 scholarship winners. Stroup said there are about 160 students in Kent State’s branch of the program.

“[The scholars] are wonderful ambassadors for Kent State,” Stroup said. “I cannot tell you how grateful I was that that whole group went on down to Columbus and made such an excellent showing.”

Stroup said the event’s theme was to highlight the 430 graduating seniors in the statewide program, and said there are 19 Kent State students graduating from the program this year.

Whaley, who is graduating from Kent State and has been accepted to med school in Toledo, said he thinks of the scholarship as a vote of confidence from the state and its residents.

“[Knowing] that Ohio taxpayers are investing their money into you to be the next best and brightest thing is a really good feeling,” Whaley said.

Shaw said the program provides a great opportunity to students.

“It’s a huge investment into your future, and what you’re able to do because you don’t have to worry about the financial aspect [of school] is amazing,” he said. “It’s a very little amount of work for an amazing, amazing scholarship.”

Contact Carrie Blazina at [email protected].