By Cole Hatcher

 Ohio Wesleyan University has been awarded its third – and largest – Choose Ohio First grant, receiving $1,199,800 to support Ohio students pursuing degrees in the STEM or STEM education fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The State of Ohio and Ohio Department of Higher Education announced the 2024 Choose Ohio First (COF) awards on Nov. 13, including Ohio Wesleyan’s five-year grant to support scholarships, academic support, and work-based learning experiences for incoming STEM scholars.

In announcing the new grants, Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor Randy Gardner congratulated Ohio Wesleyan for helping to develop the workforce needed to transform central Ohio into one of the nation’s leading high-technology hubs.

“The Choose Ohio First program has significantly strengthened Ohio’s competitiveness within STEM disciplines, and our campuses, including Ohio Wesleyan University, have done an excellent job of preparing their STEM scholars for success,” Gardner said. “I applaud Ohio Wesleyan University for being among this latest group of awardees.”

Ohio Wesleyan President Matthew vandenBerg, Ed.D., said the university is excited to receive its third Choose Ohio First grant and first grant exceeding $1 million.

“Ohio Wesleyan has retained 95% of our Choose Ohio First scholars with 100% of the returning students declaring a STEM major,” vandenBerg said of OWU’s 2022 and 2023 COF grant outcomes. “Ohio Wesleyan is making a significant impact in helping the state to meet its workforce goals, and we are proud to be recognized with our largest COF grant to date to continue this important work.

“The fundamental strengths of Ohio Wesleyan liberal arts graduates – critical analysis, deep and coherent reading, and communication across differences – enable employers to solve big problems in fast-growing STEM occupations,” vandenBerg said. “Our STEM graduates are prepared to be the next-generation workforce, keeping pace with a changing economy and driving economic development in their communities.”

According to a report from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Ohio Wesleyan ranks No. 68 among all U.S. universities for the percentage of graduates who go on to receive doctorate degrees in STEM fields.

In addition to four-year renewable scholarships, Ohio Wesleyan’s COF scholars also receive comprehensive career and support services as well as guaranteed internship and research opportunities supported by the OWU Connection, the university’s signature student experience.

The 2024 COF grant applies to studies in 13 Ohio Wesleyan academic departments and 23 majors, and also aids Ohio Wesleyan in its ongoing effort to recruit and support underrepresented STEM student groups, including women, students of color, and first-generation students.

In recognition of the caliber of its STEM students and majors, Ohio Wesleyan also is part of two college collaborations supported by Intel through a $17.7 million investment in a Semiconductor Education and Research Program. Intel is building a $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing site in central Ohio set to begin production in 2025.

In addition, Ohio Wesleyan is part of two National Science Foundation-funded initiatives to support students seeking to study computer science and to work with corporate partners to develop an integrated internship program for STEM students in central Ohio.

Learn more about the Ohio Department of Higher Education and the Choose Ohio First grant program at Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s STEM-related majors, enrolling at the university, and scholarship opportunities at

Source, Photo: OWU

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