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$55K in Scholarships Moves La Sierra University STEM Students toward Careers


RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — It has been frequently reported by news media and predicted by industry groups and others that the United States is in dire need of qualified workers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM fields and will face an even greater need in the future.

According to an article published by U.S. News and World Report last summer, the country’s manufacturing industry alone is projected to create about 3.5 million positions by 2025. Nearly 2 million may go unfilled due to a dearth of qualified applicants, the report states.

As such, universities and colleges are tasked with supporting students who are interested in STEM careers toward helping fill the current and anticipated gap. At La Sierra University, an important facet of that support consists of scholarships that help students stay in school and pursue their dream careers. On May 23, the Office of Advancement held its annual scholarships awards ceremony during which a total of $565,473 was formally presented to 258 students. These funds included a total $15,000 from Edison International for seven Edison STEM scholars and $40,000 in science scholarship awards from Victor and Alina Tolan awarded to 20 students in STEM majors.

Edison STEM scholarships went to two students in mathematics and five students in computer science, respectively Bowen Xiao, Hana Assefa, Shaanan Curtis, Christopher Friedrichsen, Cody Johnson, Ethan Morales-Vierna, and Mia Laurea.

This is the fifth grant since the 2014-15 school year which Edison International has awarded to La Sierra for scholarships benefitting students in STEM majors. In total, the energy conglomerate has given La Sierra University $90,000 in scholarship awards.

“We are grateful to Edison [International] for the continued support for our students working toward their degrees in much needed STEM fields,” said Marvin Payne, associate professor of biochemistry and chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department. “The scholarships they receive help them focus more on their studies and encourage them to continue to pursue their dreams.”

Students who received the Tolan science scholarships were Emnet Ejigu, Bryan Guerra, Jaziel Huerta, Tess Jackson, Mikayla James, Madona Kelada, Yonghe Li, Harold Limon Guerrero, Meagan Lopez, Gillian Miller, Cole Mupas, Ethan Peterson, Kellie Phan, David Ramirez, Gillian Ramirez Hernandez, Benjamin Toledo, Cassandra Ward, Ashley Wysong, Tongtong Zhao, and Sunny Zhou.

The Tolans began offering the scholarships a couple of years ago inspired by the ubiquitous need for graduates schooled in the sciences and by the career opportunities available to students who pursue STEM majors. Victor Tolan, an engineer who is president and chief executive officer of B&K Precision in Yorba Linda, has difficulty finding qualified applicants in engineering and computer science, his wife, Alina Tolan said. She has also noticed a decline in qualified high school science teachers. Alina, a retired clinical pharmacist, is a La Sierra University trustee and also sits on the personnel committee for Orangewood Academy in Garden Grove, California.

“Also with so many opportunities in technology, we felt that more of our students could earn a degree that would give them a better opportunity in life,” she said. “Education is very important to us and with the costs of education rising it has become harder for so many young men and women to be able to go to college. We decided that it is important for us to give back to our community and help students achieve an education that will enhance their future career.”

About La Sierra University

La Sierra University, a Seventh-day Adventist institution nationally acclaimed for its diverse campus and its service to others, offers a transformational experience that lasts a lifetime.

U.S. News & World Report for six years named La Sierra University the most racially diverse university in the western United States. In addition, in September 2016 and 2017, the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education top colleges ranking named La Sierra University the most diverse campus in the nation. Additionally, U.S. News and World Report’s 2017 Best Colleges guide listed La Sierra ninth in the 15-state western region for best value. This follows the July 2015, Money magazine list which ranked La Sierra University eighth in the nation for providing value-added education that helps students surpass expectations. Each year, from 2008 to 2014 the Corporation for National and Community Service included La Sierra in the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll awards. These awards include La Sierra’s receipt of the prestigious 2013 Presidential Award, the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. The corporation’s awards recognize La Sierra’s students for providing thousands of hours of service including international economic development projects by La Sierra’s world cup-winning Enactus team, and community projects through La Sierra’s campus-wide, Service-Learning program.

In December 2008, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching included La Sierra on its 2008 Community Engagement Classification lists consisting of 119 colleges and universities around the United States. La Sierra University achieved re-classification status in 2015.

The Seventh-day Adventist denomination established La Sierra University in 1922 on acreage formerly part of the Rancho La Sierra Mexican land grant. Today the 150-acre campus provides more than 120 bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees for about 2,300 students. Programs are offered in the Tom and Vi Zapara School of Business, the School of Education, the H.M.S. Richards Divinity School, the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Evening Adult Degree Program.

“To Seek, To Know, and To Serve” is the key to the mission that drives La Sierra University, with all areas of campus encouraging students to develop a deeper relationship with God.



This press release was provided by La Sierra University.

Image: Students conduct research in a science lab at La Sierra University. The institution offers a variety of STEM-related programs and opportunities for students. (Photo by Natan Vigna, courtesy of LSU.)


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