Freeman Hrabowski was a 9th grader in Birmingham, Alabama, when he heard a dynamic, impassioned speaker at church -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. At the time, King was organizing a march for children, and Hrabowski begged his parents to let him be a part of it.
Hrabowski won their blessing to march in the Children’s Crusade, a pivotal moment in the American Civil Rights Movement in 1963.
The UNCF/Merck Science Initiative, a partnership of UNCF (United Negro College Fund), the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization, and Merck, a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well, today announced that it would award scholarships and fellowships to 37 African American students of biological science and engineering. In addition to building a pipeline of African American college students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative (UMSI) works to leverage the UNCF-Merck partnership and the talent of UNCF Merck Fellows to help support the pipeline of minority students by engaging and attracting them to STEM subjects as early as elementary school.
UMSI aims to increase the number of African American undergraduates studying in STEM disciplines. American undergraduate students tend to select natural science and engineering (NS&E) disciplines as their primary field of study at considerably lower rates than their counterparts in other countries, according to the National Science Board’s Science and Engineering Indicators 2012. According to the most recent data, only 16 percent of U.S. undergraduates graduate with an NS&E degree, compared to 24 percent of undergraduates in the European Union, 44 percent in China, and 37 percent in South Korea.
The same trend is reflected among students studying STEM as graduate students and postdoctoral scientists. 33 percent of all U.S. STEM doctoral students in U.S. universities, and 43 percent of the U.S.’s postdoctoral researchers in science, engineering, and health are foreign students.