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PITTSBURGH, Aug. 25, 2014 – La Roche College’s Chemistry and Math/Physics Departments recently received a $607,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through its Scholarships for Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.

The grant will be used to provide scholarships for academically talented, financially challenged undergraduate students, who will be designated as NSF CheM Scholars (the name indicating they are Chemistry and Mathematics majors). Special consideration also will be given to first-generation students and those in underrepresented minorities.

The grant will provide a total of 14 NSF scholarships to five chemistry majors and two mathematics majors in the incoming fall 2015 and fall 2016 freshman classes. Students will receive up to $10,000 annually for four years based on financial needs, with the remainder of the grant going to cover related administrative costs.

“We are very excited to receive this grant, as it is the perfect fit for La Roche in terms of integrating these two disciplines,” Don Fujito, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and chair of the Chemistry Department, said. “We hope that the scholarship will enable us to increase our number of chemistry and math majors, and that the process that we set up to recruit prospective students to this program will perpetuate long after the NSF grant has ended.”

The NSF based its decision to award the grant on two unique aspects of La Roche’s proposal: the fact that the school’s program focused on both disciplines, recognizing the interdisciplinary nature of mathematics and chemistry; and the team-based approach used in educating chemistry and math majors throughout the year in the undergraduate curriculum.

“While professors are a strong part of the team, we realize that courses such as calculus and organic chemistry are notoriously challenging, and that it benefits students to have peer leaders who can help them in addition to instructors,” Dr. Fujito said, explaining that students who have excelled in a course in a previous year will be utilized to help students in the current-year course. “Peer leaders provide a different perspective than professors in helping students prepare for coursework and exams.”

CheM scholars also will have the opportunity to design novel, hands-on learning kits through La Roche’s ChemSOLVE (Chemistry Student-Operated Laboratory Venture) and receive one-on-one mentoring by professional and/or alumni mentors.

To apply for an NSF scholarship, prospective students will need to apply for admission to La Roche College and complete a financial aid form. Upon acceptance to the College, students who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to apply to become an NSF CheM Scholar. For more information, contact the Office of Freshman Admissions at La Roche College: 412-536-1272 or


About La Roche College: A private, Catholic, co-educational college north of Pittsburgh founded by the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1963, La Roche welcomes students of all religions, ethnic origins and talents. Undergraduates may choose from more than 50 majors, including the top 10 majors most in demand among today’s college students. La Roche combines a quality educational experience with clubs, athletics, social and community volunteer activities, spiritual well-being and more to prepare students for life in a constantly changing global society.



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