AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Today, the Education Credit Union Foundation made a $500,000 donation to Amarillo College to establish five endowed scholarships for students in STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, or math.

According to Amarillo College officials, the STEM Scholars Program is an initiative created to establish 30 endowed scholarships of $100,000 each. In honor of the gift, the College has co-branded one of its primary learning spaces in its STEM Research Center and christened it the ECU Foundation STEM lab.

Through the ECU Foundation’s contribution of five endowed scholarships, AC and its supporters have now funded 19 of the 30 scholarships.

Officials stated that the ECU Foundation was launched in 2022 by the Education Credit Union, which in 2024 will open a full-service branch on the Washington Street Campus. Both the ECU and the ECU Foundation are featured in the co-branded room.

“Amarillo College plays a crucial role in building and shaping our community, so we truly are proud to partner with them in this endeavor,” said Tricia Bass, ECU Foundation Executive Director. “We understand that an investment in STEM education and career development will have long-lasting, positive effects for local students, their families, our business community, and the area economy.”

AC Vice President of Institutional Advancement Joe Bill Sherrod pointed out that a number of the College’s STEM faculty are engaged in research efforts not typically in evidence at the community college level.

“Not only that, but our faculty are engaging their students in the research process and providing an exceptional foundation upon which to build future learning experiences,” said Sherrod. “Education Credit Union’s generous contribution affords fice STEM students per year the opportunity to research alongside their professors and to present their papers and projects at national conferences. This will make Amarillo College STEM graduates much sought after by four-year institutions.”

Through the STEM Scholars Program, AC officials said that 15 first-year and 15 second-year students will receive approximately $4,500 in aid per year for up to 60 credit hours at AC. While students’ financial needs are to be considered, the awards will not be solely based on need; meritorious accomplishments supported by strong references at the high school and/or career levels will be strongly considered.

According to ECU CEO/President and ECU Foundation Board President Marcus Smith, Amarillo College’s STEM education and development will have a wide-reaching impact on the community’s economic, educational, and social well-being.

“As we prepare students for future careers, STEM-focused pathways will equip students with the skills necessary to meet the challenges of our ever-changing world,” said Edie Carter, Dean of STEM and Academic Success. “We are most thankful for the support of our community partners who are providing financial support for our STEM scholars to complete their education at AC and beyond.”

Further, AC officials mentioned that students selected to be part of AC’s STEM Scholars Program will major in one of the following disciplines: biology, chemistry, computer science, data science, drafting, engineering, horticulture, mathematics, and physics.

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