The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) today announced scholarships and fellowships for 37 African-American students of biology and chemical science, in partnership with Merck & Co. These scholarships are open for all students studying at a four-year college/university and include summer research internships at Merck's Research Laboratories, where they are paired with a mentor. They also provide funding to the science departments of the recipient's college.
According to a study done by the National Academy of Sciences in 2006, only 15% of undergraduate students received their degree in natural science or engineering. Compare this to other countries' graduation rates of 38% (South Korea), 47% (France) and 67% (Singapore) and the disparity is starkly apparent. The presence of minorities in specialized fields, especially the sciences has been a concern for a long time now. These scholarships help, but not enough.
Employers need to become better participants in preparing the coming decades' workforce, whether it is monetary, offering available resources or intangibles like mentorships, internships and shadowing opportunities. Partnering with educational institutions and organizations is just the first step.
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