Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joined the college presidents of Northeastern University and Middlesex Community College on Oct. 23 to announce a $4.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation that will provide scholarships to low-income students studying biotechnology.
The scholarships will be awarded to low-income and under-represented minority students who will participate in an associates to masters’ degree accelerated program in biotechnology. Northeastern University and Middlesex Community College are partners in this initiative, known as “A2M.” Over the next five years, more than 500 scholarships will be awarded to academically-talented biotechnology students across three degree levels who are in the A2M pathway. Students will gain research experience, mentoring from industry leaders, specialized academic advising and tailored academic and career support.
“Students who are able to take advantage of this associates to masters’ opportunity will be prepared for success in the region’s biotech industry through paid internships, research experience, and other career opportunities,” said Baker. “The partnership between Northeastern University and Middlesex Community College is an exciting and creative way to provide students an affordable path to a degree.”
The announcement was one of hundreds of events taking place across the state as part of the inaugural STEM Week, and exemplifies how public and private partners are working creatively to give students more opportunities to become engaged in STEM fields. Northeastern and Middlesex Community College partner with biotech companies, like Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Novartis, Shire, the MassBioEd Foundation, and the Mass Life Sciences Center, to provide students with paid internships.
Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito were joined by U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III and Vertex CEO Dr. Jeffrey Leiden for the announcement at Northeastern University, as well as Mass Life Sciences Center President and CEO Travis McCready. Both Congressman Kennedy and Dr. Leiden co-chair the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council along with the Lt. Governor.
Younger people and minority individuals make up an increasing portion of the overall workforce, but the demographics of STEM fields have remained largely the same.
“At Northeastern, we are committed to meeting learners wherever they are in their educational journey,” said Joseph E. Aoun, President of Northeastern University. “This includes creating innovative pathways for adult learners of all backgrounds to pursue careers in biotechnology. I want to thank Governor Baker, Dr. Cordova, and President Mabry for their vision and their leadership. By joining forces, we are providing valuable educational opportunities and renewing a fundamental social compact.”