The STAMPS (Science, Technology and Math Preparation Scholarships) Program at UNCG offers scholarships of up to $4,000 per year for academically talented undergraduate students in the sciences. The primary goal of the STAMPS program at UNCG is to provide financial and community support for undergraduate students who are majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography, Mathematical Sciences, and Physics and Astronomy. Students are awarded scholarships based on a demonstration of both a significant promise for success in science/math and a measurable financial need. In addition to financial support STAMPS incorporates a variety of community-building measures including peer mentors, a science colloquium series, tutoring, and field trips to research facilities. The program, begun with a $600,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, has supported nearly a hundred students. over the past 7 years. For the 2016-17 academic year, we will add 21 incoming students as new STAMPS Scholars.
STAMPS students and faculty meet together to examine the interconnectedness of the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, investigate career opportunities and explore cutting edge research. To this end STAMPS provides a broad range of interdisciplinary lectures and programs, visits to scientific labs, and opportunities to network with other students to form a community of scientists. For example, this past year STAMPS students went on two field trips. In the fall we went to Stone Mountain, NC where students learned about the geological processes responsible for the formation of the Appalachian Mountains. In April 2015, 19 of our STAMPS students went to Washington DC. The first day of this trip was spent at Goddard Space Center and the National Institute for Science and Technology. The second day students explored the Mall and various Smithsonian Institutions all of which illuminated possible career pathways in STEM. Not only did students tour the facilities but also had opportunities to talk with the mathematicians and scientists working at those research centers. Past trips have included exploration of a wild cave in Eastern Tennessee, a visit to the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), Duke University’s Lemur Center, and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering.
STAMPS was established to help students graduate with degrees in STEM, and to prepare them as they continue on in either STEM related careers or further education. Perhaps the greatest impact of the program can be found in the comments of many of the participants who report that their personal aspirations of what they want and believe they can accomplish as scientists have been raised by STAMPS. Many who previously saw obtaining their undergraduate degree as the culmination of their educational journey have gone on to attend outstanding STEM graduate programs. Instead of simply working in scientific fields they now see themselves as wanting and capable of making significant contributions in their fields.