Several weeks ago, I was invited by former member Diane Cecchettini to an event to spotlight the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS). The scholarship is a unique partnership that is helping to build the next generation of scientists, engineers and health care professionals.
The scholarship brings together two major problems: the rising cost of higher education as a barrier to working Washington families and the need for more home-grown talent in high-paying science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) fields. This isn’t just paid tuition, either — the program provides real and practical support for students by giving them professional development, skills-building workshops and genuine industry exposure.
The students are extraordinary voices for this program, which is specifically for students from low- and middle-income households who are working on earning bachelor’s degrees STEM fields and health care.
A number of WSHA hospitals and health systems are working with WSOS to help students get the experience they need so they can get the jobs they need. And we need them, too — their energy, their creativity, their commitment.
The numbers are impressive:
- More than 5,500 students have received support
- 52 percent of scholars are the first in the family to attend college
- More than 60 percent are women
- Nearly 1,500 scholars have graduated to date, with two-thirds employed or seeking an advanced degree in their field
- Of graduates employed in their field, nearly 90 percent remain in Washington State
I love this state, and it’s promising to see how we are investing so wisely in our future. These students are impressive. Their stories of achievement are humbling; their vision for the future will knock your socks off. Check them out for yourself here.