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Elementary ed major receives national STEM scholarship

Justine Cox '13 attends orientation at NOAA.
Justine Cox '13 attends orientation at NOAA.
Photo supplied by Cox.

Justine Cox ‘13 has been honored with a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hollings Scholarship. She is the only student attending a Minnesota institution and the only elementary teaching major among 105 scholarship recipients across the country.

Scholarship recipients represent a variety of higher education institutions—from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Cornell University to Northwestern University.

A day undergraduate student, Cox is an elementary education major with a Mathematics middle school endorsement.

With a competitive application process, the scholarship is open nationally to science majors and those going into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) K-12 education.  The Hollings scholarship program is designed to increase undergraduate training and interest in pursuing careers in oceanic and atmospheric science, research, technology, and education as well as increasing public understanding and support for these fields.

“Justine is an excellent student, and one of the reasons why she was able to compete nationally for this scholarship is the STEM Minor that she is completing as part of the elementary education program,” said Tony Murphy, who is faculty advisor to Cox and executive director of the National Center for STEM Elementary Education at St. Kate’s.

St. Catherine University requires elementary education majors to complete a STEM certificate—three of the five courses in the STEM Minor—for initial licensure to ensure that they are confident and competent STEM educators.

More about the Hollings Scholarship program

The Hollings Scholarship Program provides undergraduate awards that include academic assistance for full-time study during an academic year and a 10-week, full-time paid internship position during the summer at a NOAA facility.

The internship between the first and second years of the award provides scholars with a "hands-on," practical educational training experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities. 

Students also have the option to apply for financial assistance for full-time study during a second academic year. 

Awards also include travel funds to attend a mandatory Hollings Scholarship Program orientation, conferences where students present a paper or poster, and a housing subsidy for scholars who do not reside at home during the summer internship.

More about STEM at St. Kate’s

At a national meeting on STEM in 2009, Murphy learned about the Hollings scholarship from NOAA staff and discussed St. Kate’s focus on STEM education at the elementary level with them. They encouraged Murphy to promote the scholarship to students and in their applications, to highlight the STEM certificate and EcoSTARS experience that gives students the opportunity to teach science prior to their student teaching assignment. 

“This is the first year that students from St. Kate's applied for the scholarship and I believe St. Kate’s unique STEM certificate and EcoSTARS program played a part in Justine receiving this award,” said Murphy. “This scholarship confirms the value of STEM education for elementary education majors.”

The National Center for STEM Elementary Education website has more information about graduate certificate programs in STEM for in-service teachers and STEM programs for undergraduates.

June 2, 2011 by Julie Michener

See also: Education, STEM, Students