UToledo Receives State Grant for Choose Ohio First Scholarships

April 14, 2022 | News, UToday, Alumni, Engineering
By Christine Billau

The Ohio Department of Higher Education awarded The University of Toledo a five-year, $893,760 grant through the Choose Ohio First program to provide scholarships to academically talented, underrepresented minority students pursuing all majors in the College of Engineering.

Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner recently announced more than $42 million for 44 colleges and universities across the state to boost Ohio’s efforts to strengthen the state’s workforce in STEM-related fields while supporting an estimated 4,850 Ohio students.

“Employers express to us a desire to diversify their workforces,” said Dr. Lesley Berhan, associate dean for diversity, inclusion and community engagement in the UToledo College of Engineering and associate professor of mechanical, industrial and manufacturing engineering. “The Choose Ohio First grant will enhance our continued efforts to recruit, retain and graduate students to pursue careers in engineering — offering financial support, industry partnerships, mentoring, job training and leadership opportunities.”

Professional development is a central aspect of the program, Berhan said, and students will regularly interface with regional employers who are members of the UToledo Engineering Corporate Partners program.

“The Choose Ohio First scholarship is just one example of how Ohio continues to invest in growing our STEM talent,” Lt. Governor Jon Husted said. “We want our students to stay and work in Ohio. These scholarships will help young Ohioans gain valuable STEM skills, preparing them for one of Ohio’s many in-demand jobs and ensuring businesses have the talent they need to succeed.”

The Choose Ohio First scholarship program began in 2008 to increase the number of Ohio students enrolling in and successfully completing STEM programs at Ohio’s public and independent colleges and universities.

Students who receive a Choose Ohio First scholarship are required to participate in a work-based learning opportunity such as a STEM internship, co-op or research to help them transition effectively to the STEM workforce after graduation.

“These opportunities are possible thanks to the many business partners that work with our colleges and universities and their Choose Ohio First scholars,” Gardner said. “Those relationships create win-win situations for the students as well as the companies that may hire them as their future workforce.”

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