New STEM scholarships provide critical help for Army cadets
Jacob Groeneveld, a junior majoring in aerospace engineering, is exactly where he wants to be.
"I have loved airplanes and rockets since I was a little kid," he says. "And, since I was in eighth grade, I have wanted to be in the military."
Tradition is a priority, too. "My father, Brian, was an Army Ranger for nine years, and my sister Brianna graduated from U-M in 2011."
It was a natural step for Groeneveld to transfer from Grand Rapids Community College to U-M — the first aeronautics college program in the U.S., and alma mater of numerous celebrated air and space pioneers. His next purposeful step was to join the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps, perhaps to pilot helicopters one day.
These are bold decisions for a young man from the Allegan County community of Dorr, and a major financial challenge. Thanks to a newly created STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) scholarship, Groeneveld can worry less about finances and focus more on his studies and ROTC.
"This takes a lot of pressure off, a lot of weight off my shoulders," he says. "And it motivates me to do better both in ROTC and in the classroom."
Groeneveld's scholarship, and several more like it, are available to U-M students thanks to the tenacious and strategic efforts of Lt. Col. Allana J. Bryant, professor of military science and chair of the Army Officer Education Program at U-M.
U.S. Army Cadet Command, which is responsible for all 273 ROTC host university programs, initiated the new STEM scholarship as a pilot initiative. U-M was not chosen as a pilot school, but Bryant was watchful for an opportunity to support her cadets.
"The pilot was successful to an extent, but there was a lot of unused program money, so they opened it up to all ROTC programs," she says.
Bryant seized the opportunity. Through multiple application cycles, she and her leadership team scoured U-M's Army ROTC ranks to identify eligible candidates, and worked diligently to reconcile Army and U-M curricular guidelines.
The enormous benefit to the U-M Army cadet corps amounts to more than $1.5 million in three- and four-year scholarships so far.
"We have awarded the most STEM scholarships out of all ROTC programs in the country," says Bryant.
The scholarships are automatically renewable, to graduation or to the end of the scholarship term (whichever comes first), as long as recipients meet the requirements of GPA, degree plan, credit-hour load, and physical condition and fitness to Army standards.
As successful as she has been in this effort, Bryant is not finished.
"There is still money available for some majors, and we have actually contacted the College of Engineering to look for more students who might be interested in ROTC. Although we have generally met our recruiting goals already, I hate to see this additional money go to waste if it can be awarded to my students," she said.