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Future Teachers Awarded Scholarships

At least four more Broncos will be joining the ranks of math and science teachers in high-needs schools in the area, thanks in part to being named as the latest Robert Noyce Teacher Scholars. The $25,000 scholarships, made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation, will pay for almost 90 percent of the tuition and fees related to obtaining a teaching credential in secondary education.

This year’s recipients are seniors:

  • Ryan Clark, civil engineering major;
  • Francesca Porto, physics major;
  • David Runger, mathematics major;
  • Donald Snedden, mathematics major


Applicants had to be in the final year in a science, mathematics, or engineering major at SCU, have a minimum GPA of 2.5, and commit to teaching science or math in a high-need middle or high school for at least two years after obtaining their teaching credential.

The Noyce Leadership Team, which administers the NSF grant, comprises principal investigator Melissa C. Gilbert and co-principal investigators W. Atom Yee, Ruth Davis, Craig Stephens, and Tamsen McGinley.

This is the second year of a three-year grant cycle for the Noyce. While it is still too early to tell how the scholarship will affect the latest winners, one of last year’s recipients says it changed his life and in turn, he’s changing others’ lives as well.

Gerson Sandoval, the first in his family to attend college, never considered a career in teaching until Margaret McLean and Leilani Miller—“the two best professors I had”—cornered him with a brochure about the scholarship last year and urged him to apply. While the double major in Spanish and biology knew he didn’t want to spend his life in a lab, he had no concrete post-graduation plans.

“We hounded him. We were relentless,” laughs Margaret McLean, a senior lecturer in religious studies, as well as the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics associate director and director of bioethics. “When that first announcement about the Noyce Scholarship Program came out it read ‘Gerson Sandoval’ to me. I knew he could teach before he knew he could teach.”

While the amount of work necessary to prepare lessons has been “an eye-opener,” Sandoval says he’s never been happier. He’s currently teaching biology to freshmen and sophomores at Pioneer High School in San Jose while taking classes at SCU in the evenings toward his teaching credential.

Already he’s managed to break through to a noncommunicative gang member by reaching out to him, getting him to open up, and uncovering his previously hidden art talent. Sandoval has helped the student raise his failing grade to a B.

“Teaching has changed my life,” Sandoval says. “That one student—that makes it worth it for me to get up every morning.”

But one of his mentors doesn’t think that will be the only student whose life Sandoval will change. “If it’s just that one kid ever, it’s been worth it,” McLean says. “But it won’t be just that one kid. It’ll be a ton of kids just like that who he’ll reach.”

Learn more about the Noyce Scholarship Program.

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