CSM’s Grants Provide Tuition Support and More to Students Pursuing Essential, In Demand STEM and Cybersecurity Jobs

CSM Math Professor Sandy Poinsett, left, and CSM Alumna Dr. Syria Wesley, share a hug when Wesley was interviewed by ABC-7 about how the NSF S-STEM grant - and her time at CSM - changed her life.

STEM jobs – in science, technology, engineering and math – are still among the most in demand in today’s ever-changing job market and despite the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. And the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) has a way forward for students seeking careers in those fields thanks to a $953,243 award from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scholarships in STEM (S-STEM) program, and a second NSF grant for $257,912 to help students pursue degrees in cybersecurity.

“It is so important for our students and communities facing such difficult times right now to realize that CSM is here to help them achieve their education and stay on course – or start a new career – in positions that are meaningful, important and will always be considered essential,” said CSM Mathematics Professor Sandra Poinsett, who is a lead on the NSF S-STEM grant. “The NSF grants we received in 2019 provide tuition support to students who are pursuing STEM degrees or certificates in applied science and technology, biological sciences, computer information systems, computer science, engineering, engineering technology, information services technology, information systems, cybersecurity and physical sciences.” 

The New York Academy of Sciences recently reported about the important role of scientists and STEM professionals in the fight against the new coronavirus. “As we’ve seen so often in previous times of extreme challenge, the passion, drive, and innovative thinking of scientists and STEM professionals emerges very quickly. And this new crisis is no exception,” the academy shared.

And tech journals were abuzz July 23 after the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals and the cybersecurity training firm CyberVista, released a joint report on the state of cybersecurity jobs. The report, “Cybersecurity Jobs Report: Q2,” confirmed not only the resilience of cybersecurity jobs at a time of layoffs, but also a resurgence in need of skilled employees.

“The report highlighted that the well-publicized cybersecurity skills gap means that there is currently a shortage of candidates to meet this demand, finding that 86% of the cybersecurity job openings had attracted under 10 applicants,” wrote James Coker with Info Security Magazine.

Former CSM students Dr. Syria Wesley and Rodrigo Arce – both of whom were interviewed last spring by ABC 7/WJLA about being NSF grant recipients – credit the grant, and their time at the CSM, for their continued success.

When Arce began at CSM, he was learning English and in remedial math as a Peruvian immigrant in 2012. After receiving the NSF S-STEM grant, Arce earned his associate degree from CSM went on to the University of Maryland in College Park to study mechanical engineering.

Wesley, who is a Maurice J. McDonough High School graduate, said her time at CSM transformed her life and put her on a STEM career path to become a pharmacist with a doctorate degree.

“When I was awarded the S-STEM scholarship from 2012-2014, I was able to attend college full time and graduate with honors,” Wesley explained. “I was also able to utilize so many resources. We had tutors; networking; we went to [Naval Air Station] Pax River; anything you needed to excel, CSM and the NSF scholarship provided.”

New and interested students who qualify as academically talented, with demonstrated financial need and who have declared a STEM major, including programs in applied science and technology, biological sciences, computer information systems, computer science, engineering, engineering technology, information services technology, information systems, cybersecurity and physical sciences can apply for the S-STEM NSF grant.

The window to apply for the NSF S-STEM scholarship remains open. The grant monies not only cover tuition, it also covers support services like field trips, guest speakers, supplies and tutoring. Visit https://www.csmd.edu/apply-register/credit/scholars-programs/stem-scholars/ for more information.

You may also be interested in reading:

ABC 7/WJLA News Features CSM Alums’ Success Stories After College Earns Second, Nearly $950K NSF Grant to Provide 96 Scholarships

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