The year 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the American Chemical Society Scholars Program. On this milestone year, I’d like to congratulate all those who have participated and thank the individuals who have helped make the program a reality over the past 2½ decades.
ACS Scholars is a program that is dedicated to supporting African American, Hispanic and Latino, and American Indian undergraduate students who want to enter fields within the chemical sciences. Scholars are selected according to academic standing, career objective, leadership skills, and involvement in school activities and community service. Participating students can benefit from up to $5,000 per year in scholarships. Since the program started in 1995, there have been more than 3,200 scholarship recipients, totaling over $15 million awarded in financial support.
That’s over 3,200 lives transformed by the program. But its impact continues well beyond graduation as an ACS Scholar, with 45% of alumni going on to pursue advanced degrees. To date, 379 alumni of the program have earned PhD or MD-PhD degrees.
Besides providing financial aid, the program partners students with volunteer mentors that provide advice and coaching. As such, the ACS Scholars Program is more than just a scholarship—it’s a network that connects high-achieving underrepresented minority students with passionate professionals who want to help and support future chemists during a crucial time in their lives.
C&EN is celebratingwith a series of alumni profiles written by current or recent scholars (since we started planning for this project last year, a couple of the students have graduated). We’ll run a profile every 2 months; you can read the first one on page 37. In it, current ACS Scholar Niara Nichols chats with US Food and Drug Administration chemist and ACS Scholar alumna Corina McClure about being a woman of color in the chemical sciences. Other profiles coming up in the next few months include an interview with University of Michigan chemistry professor Bart Bartlett by Rebecca Leuschen, a biochemistry major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. And Andrew Palacios, a chemical engineering major at Columbia University, will interview Richelle Delia, a product research lead at Owens Corning. If you’d like to read more or make a donation, please visit the ACS Scholars website and click the Scholars Profiles tab. Nearly 100 ACS Scholars have been profiled there. Throughout the year, follow @ACS_Scholars on Twitter for spotlights of some of the “ACS Scholars doing chemistry-related research.
If you are an ACS Scholar mentor, participant, or alum, you will soon be able to sign up for ACS Connects, a professional networking social media platform for alumni and current participants to meet and connect with mentors. If you or someone you know is interested in applying to the scholarship program, the deadline is March 1.
The society is planning several events in the coming months to commemorate this anniversary. At the ACS fall national meeting in San Francisco, ACS Scholar alumni will share their current work and the impact that the ACS Scholars Program has had on their trajectories. The Committee of Minority Affairs luncheon at the same meeting will celebrate 25 years of ACS Scholars. Throughout 2020 and across the US, there will also be meetups in which current and former scholars can network with one another and with donors to the program and mentors.
The ACS Scholars Program is an example of the commitment by many in the chemical sciences community to support underrepresented minority groups, promote science literacy, and inspire the next generation of chemists. Here’s to another 25 years!
Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.