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Two UNH Students Receive Scholarships to Pursue STEM Teaching

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At a ceremony honoring the UNH Robert Noyce scholars Friday, Oct. 7, 2011.Front L to R: Kaitlyn Stefanski, Kayla Pope, Benjamin Winchell. Back L to R: Sharon McCrone (PI of Noyce Scholarship program), Lisa MacFarlane (senior vice provost for academic affairs), Taylor Langkau, Sofia Lemons, Neil Portnoy (Noyce co-PI), Sarah Stitzlein (Noyce co-PI), Tim Fukawa-Connelly (Noyce co-PI). Credit: Courtesy of Sharon McCrone

Two undergraduates received forgivable loans of up to $20,000 to pursue teaching careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in rural and high-needs public schools. The students – Taylor Langkau ’12 from Groveton and Kaitlyn Stefanski ’13 of Weare – received Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships at a ceremony Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, at UNH.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program responds to the critical need for K-12 teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by encouraging talented STEM students and professionals to pursue teaching careers in middle and secondary schools. UNH Noyce Scholars will engage in additional teacher education program components at UNH that focus on preparing for careers in rural schools. To be granted loan forgiveness, Noyce scholars are required to complete two years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of support.

Langkau, an Earth sciences major, will seek certification in middle school science from UNH. “I grew up in a rural, high-need district and I want to help students find their passion and achieve their goals in those types of environments,” she says. “I want to serve as a mentor for kids who are interested in the sciences.”

A mathematics major, Stefanski plans to seek certification in high school math from UNH. “I hope that I can gain an understanding of what it takes to be a great teacher ... and that I can devise a flexible teaching strategy that will help me get in touch with any type of student," she says.

UNH Noyce Scholars Kaitlyn Stefanski, Sofia Lemons, Taylor Langkau (absent: Jennifer Thompson) Credit: Sharon McCrone

Also recognized at the ceremony were Sofia Lemons of Dover and Jennifer Thompson ’07 of Kensington, both pursuing master’s degrees in education at UNH, who have deferred their Noyce scholarships.

“UNH has long supported K-12 STEM education, notably through the work of the Joan and James Leitzel Center in providing professional development to in-service teachers and the school-university partnerships that are essential to the preparation of teachers. Through the Noyce scholarships, UNH is helping New Hampshire meet the critical need for highly qualified mathematics and science teachers,” says Dawn Meredith, associate professor of physics and co-principal investigator of the Noyce Teacher Scholarship program.

Noyce scholarships are available to UNH juniors and seniors, as well as to graduate students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a STEM major and wish to earn teaching certification from the UNH department of education. For freshmen or sophomores interested in exploring a teaching career in a STEM field, Noyce Summer Fellowships provide teaching assistantships with pre-college summer programs at UNH, including Project SMART, Tech Camp, and Upward Bound. Friday’s ceremony also recognized UNH’s first Noyce Summer Fellows: Benjamin Winchell ’13 of Belmont and Samantha Mannion ’13 of Atkinson, who worked with Upward Bound, and Alexander Croteau ’14 of Marlborough and Kayla Pope ’14 of Lempster, who worked with Project Smart.

Applications for Noyce scholarships are due Nov. 1, 2011, and March 1, 2012; applications for Noyce summer fellowships are due March 1, 2012.

For more information on the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program at UNH, and to download applications, go to www.unh.edu/noyce/.