For Immediate Release

Contact: David Jwanier, media relations associate, 610-740-3790


Allentown, PA (March 30, 2009)—Cedar Crest College has been awarded nearly $600,000 from the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM (Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Grant Program, which aims to recruit more students to the fields of science and engineering. This is the first time Cedar Crest has applied for this funding.

Cedar Crest’s S-STEM program, Women First, will provide up to 20 scholarships for incoming, high-achieving, first-generation college women majoring in one of eight STEM programs at the college—biochemistry, genetic engineering, biology, forensic science, mathematics, neuroscience, conservation biology and chemistry—beginning with the fall 2009 semester. The program provides $4,000 to $10,000 per student annually for up to four years of study.

Forty percent of Cedar Crest incoming freshmen over the past decade have been first-generation college students. Women First aims to create unity among these students through regular meetings and extracurricular activities, and provide support for academic achievement through faculty and student mentorship, and when necessary, professional and peer tutoring.

The program is very “hands-on” with faculty-directed and independent research, conference participation and internships being principal components to building research skills, self-confidence and leadership capabilities. In addition to scholarships, Women First will provide significant resources for travel so students can attend regional and national conferences and share knowledge with top academics and students in their respective fields.

John Cigliano, associate professor of biological sciences, is principal investigator for the S-STEM program at Cedar Crest, while Larry Quarino, assistant professor of chemical and physical sciences, serves as co-principal investigator. They look forward to launching the program later this year.

"I am very excited that the NSF has seen fit to provide us with this grant. The Women First program will help us recruit high-achieving students to our already strong science program here at Cedar Crest, and provide the tools to ensure most if not all these students will be successful,” said Cigliano.

A key component of the Cedar Crest College mission is to prepare female students to be leaders in every field of employment.

These S-STEM grants encourage high-achieving students to pursue areas where women are traditionally underrepresented,” said President Carmen Twillie Ambar. “We are dedicated to educating the next generation of women leaders, and it is our expectation that these students will ultimately serve as role models for future young women with an interest in the sciences or math. The S-STEM grants are critical to our mission, and we are excited that the NSF has recognized Cedar Crest College with this award.”


Cedar Crest plans to share the Women First model with other colleges and universities through presentations and publications.


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