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Lamar awarded grant for ASCENT scholarship program

The National Science Foundation has awarded Lamar University $590,000 in funding for the departments of mathematics and computer science for their scholarship program “Addressing the Gulf Coast Region’s Graduation Rate Crisis in Mathematics and Computer Science” (ASCENT). This five-year grant program will provide 24 students majoring in math or computer science with considerable financial and educational support during the completion of their degrees, beginning this fall.

The ASCENT program targets students currently enrolled at Lamar with two years left in their math or computer science degree, as well as transfer students who have graduated from a community college entering Lamar’s math or computer science programs. ASCENT is part of an initiative to improve the six-year graduation rate among math and computer science majors at Lamar.

“There are only a few scholarships for upperclassman, and upper-level math and computer science courses require significant time and attention,” said Kumer Pial Das, LU associate professor of mathematics and ASCENT director. “Students aren't completing their degrees on time because they work to support their education and/or families.”

Students accepted to the ASCENT program receive two annual scholarships of up to $10,000 as supplementary income, reducing employment obligations for undergraduates in their last two years. Providing upperclassmen with resources and financial support will both accelerate and increase academic progress, Das said.

ASCENT scholars will also receive extensive academic support including undergraduate research experience, multi-level mentoring and post-graduate placement and all students will be in a learning community.  The program will serve 24 students over the next five years. To be considered for this competitive scholarship, applicants must be a declared major in math or computer science at Lamar, satisfy the citizenship and financial NSF requirements and hold a minimum grade point average of 3.0.  Three groups of eight eligible students are selected each year based on need, merit and academic achievement.

For more information about ASCENT, students may contact Das at (409) 880-8947.