ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands – St. Croix Foundation for Community Development is pleased to announce that $18,900 in grants and scholarships have been awarded through the Lang-Wise STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Scholarship Fund in its inaugural grant cycles. Awards include an $8,400 grant to the St. Croix Rocketry Association and $10,500 in scholarships to five St. Croix graduates.
On Thursday, August 3rd, during a virtual presentation at St. Croix Foundation (SCF), four (4) scholarships were awarded in the first competitive cycle of the Lang-Wise STEM Scholarship Fund. The Fund was established in the fall of 2022 at St. Croix Foundation by St. Croix native and engineer, Raydiance Wise, to “pay forward” the support she received from multiple organizations when she herself was studying for her engineering degree. Recognizing that scholarships can help to cover significant costs associated with higher education (beyond tuition), this award is designed to encourage students to pursue STEM-related fields of study by offsetting costs related to travel, clothing, textbooks, and other unexpected expenses that become burdensome.
The Fund supports graduating seniors from public, private, or parochial schools on the island of St. Croix. Students who applied to the 2023 competitive scholarship cycle were required to submit transcripts, essays, and a video presentation demonstrating their knowledge of their chosen career path and the steps needed to acquire a degree. Each applicant was carefully considered by St. Croix Foundation’s Grants & Scholarships Review Committee using an equity-based framework. The following recipients were awarded scholarships between $500 and $3,000:
- Joscelin Torres, Texas State University, Major: Physics
- Wyatt Bracy, Northeastern University, Major: Criminal Justice/Cybersecurity
- Una Alexander, Howard University, Major: Biology
- Bry’Nice Berley, Nova Southeastern University, Major: Computer Science
In their applications, awardees acknowledged the rigorous coursework they would meet pursuing a STEM-related degree and demonstrated their ability to meet these challenges. Successful applicants also spoke of their desire to bring back their expertise to the U.S. Virgin Islands whether as a teacher or scientist. At the awards presentation, Joscelin Torres, a graduate of St. Croix Educational Complex and freshman at Texas State University, expressed, “I am honored to be a recipient. This scholarship brings positivity into our lives, and I aspire to do the same when I’m in a position to do so. Thank you, thank you!”
In its first official year, the Lang-Wise STEM Scholarship Fund has awarded a total of $18,900 in scholarships and grants. In December 2022, the Fund awarded a grant to the St. Croix Rocketry Association to support the first half of its 2023 programming, which includes weekly instructional workshops for junior high and high school students on St. Croix where they build and test rockets for speed and height. Students then compete in a national tournament. In 2022, students in the program took home two championship trophies and several medals. Also in 2022, the Fund reached back to a past scholarship recipient, Laurie Cedeno (graduate of St. Croix Central High School), with an opportunity to apply for an invitation-only scholarship to support her pursuit of a Nursing Degree at the University of Tampa. Now in her Junior year, Cedeno spoke of her goals to attend graduate school after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree and also expressed the importance of passion to sustain her through the challenges.
St. Croix Foundation is deeply privileged and encouraged by the growing number of funds being launched by native Virgin Islanders locally and abroad who are ‘reaching back’ to lift the banner of philanthropy in the Virgin Islands. St. Croix Foundation also wishes to extend its deepest appreciation to Donor (and Fund Advisor) Radiance Wise, Alice Wise, as well as the Foundation’s Grants & Scholarships Review Committee for their deep engagement in the grantmaking process.
For more information on the Lang-Wise STEM Scholarship Fund or to find out how to contribute, please contact St. Croix Foundation at 340-773-9898 or visit our website at www.stxfoundation.org.