Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: October 18, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Council on Women: Danielle Campbell, Special Assistant for Advisory Board Administration, women@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam and Virginia Council on Women Announce 9th Annual STEM Essay Contest

Governor and First Lady Northam to serve as honorary co-chairs

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia Council on Women today announced the 9th Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Essay Contest for young women in their senior year of high school.

“As we build the workforce we need to compete in a 21st century economy, we must step up our efforts to encourage young women across Virginia to explore their interests in innovative industries like science, technology, math, and engineering,” said Governor Northam. “This annual essay contest is a tremendous opportunity to reward some of the Commonwealth’s brightest young women and open new doors for girls seeking to pursue their educational and professional goals in these high-demand fields.”

The STEM Essay Contest was launched in 2012 with 170 young women from across the Commonwealth submitting essays focused on their vision for pursuing a STEM career. In the first year, the Council raised $10,000 and awarded three scholarships. Now, in its ninth year, the Council has awarded nearly $200,000 in scholarships. Last year, the Council received more than 500 essay submissions, and thanks to the generosity of sponsors, awarded $25,000 in scholarships to five Virginia students.

The Council will award scholarships to qualifying high school seniors who plan to pursue a STEM career at a community college, four-year college or university, trade or technical school, online, and/or through certificated STEM-oriented courses. This year, one merit-based and one need-based scholarship will be awarded in each of five geographic regions across the Commonwealth. Merit-based scholarships will be awarded based on the quality of the essay submitted, and need-based scholarships will be awarded based on the quality of the essay and the individual’s self-identified financial need. Award amounts may vary and are determined by the Council annually.

“For years now, the Virginia Council on Women’s STEM Essay Contest has increased educational access for students throughout the Commonwealth and we’re thrilled to now expand this access to even more students,” said Jill Gaitens, Virginia Council on Women STEM Essay Contest Co-Chair.

To be eligible, one must be female or identify as female, reside in Virginia, be a senior in high school and hold at least a 3.0 GPA for the merit-based awards and a 2.5 GPA for the need-based awards. Applications and guidelines are available online here.

Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, January 10, 2020. Essays will be judged by a panel of Council members and individuals who represent STEM fields. Winners will be notified on Friday, February 28, 2020. The scholarship awards will be presented at a reception at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, Virginia, in Spring 2020.

The chief purpose of the Virginia Council on Women is to help women reach their potential and maximize their contributions to society and the Commonwealth as wage earners and citizens. The Council has initiated several projects to meet this goal, including the annual STEM Essay Contest for high school seniors. Find additional information about the Council and available sponsorship opportunities here.

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