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A stressed engineering student working at home with phone, mask, textbooks

A stressed engineering student working at home with phone, mask, textbooks

New Scholarships Address Pandemic Inequities

The COVID-19 global pandemic has hit underrepresented university students especially hard. To help address the inequities and to support our diverse student body, the School of Engineering has launched four new scholarship funds.

Last spring, when Santa Clara and other universities across the country and around the world closed their campuses to try to stem the spread of COVID-19, everyone felt the pain. But some felt it more deeply.

Many students of color, women, low-income, and working-class students in the Santa Clara community reported a lack of access to campus computers, and high-speed internet as well as difficulty paying for tuition, books, food and housing now that their campus or off-campus jobs were also lost.

“In times of COVID-19 financial support of our underrepresented students is particularly important. The pandemic has shown the inequities in our country and the School of Engineering is addressing that with four new scholarship funds,” said Elaine P. Scott, School of Engineering Dean.

The new funds—School of Engineering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship, Black Engineering Excellence Scholarship, Latinx Engineering Excellence Scholarship, and Women in Engineering Excellence Scholarship—have been established to help recruit, retain, and educate underrepresented students. Preference in awarding the funds goes to undergraduate students demonstrating financial need, academic merit, and a commitment to the values of the School of Engineering and Santa Clara University. 

“It is incumbent upon us to help where we can. Women and students of color often don’t have the safety net nor the financial cushion needed to respond to an unexpected upheaval such as what we have experienced over the past year, and the emotional toll levied by financial instability makes learning a far greater challenge for these students,” said Dean Scott. 

Silvia Figueira, professor of computer science and engineering and co-associate dean for mission, culture, and inclusion, agrees: “The School of Engineering is putting its ethics into action through these new scholarships. They will help fulfill some of Santa Clara’s top goals: making an SCU education more affordable for qualified students as well as building and retaining a diverse student body.”

Initial funding for the scholarships comes from the Dean’s Engineering Excellence Fund and from generous gifts of two alumni. Renee (Bader) Niemi ’86, chair of the School of Engineering Advisory Board and limited partner with Mighty Capital, helped launch the Women in Engineering Excellence Scholarship. Joseph Harkins ’76, retired project director at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and current deputy director at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, seeded the School of Engineering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship.

If you would like to support one of these new funds, please visit our Giving Page.



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Santa Clara University
School of Engineering
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053

Heafey-Bergin, Bldg. 202
Sobrato Discovery, Bldg. 402

408-554-5474 fax