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The students, who come from all 50 states, were honored for excelling in the classroom and the community. They will receive financial resources to pursue a college degree within the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), or other related fields of study.
As one of the largest in the country, the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program is noteworthy because it grants 100 students up to
$25,000. The grants are renewable for up to four years and one additional year for qualified five-year engineering programs.
Additionally, 1,000 students receive a one-time
$2,000 award. By the end of 2012, the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program expects to have provided nearly
$13 million to help students attend school. Eligibility was expanded this year from first-time college-bound students to include current undergraduates.
The GM Foundation hosted five of the 2012 national recipients at Education Nation, where they participated in the first-annual nationally televised Student Town Hall moderated by MSNBC's
Melissa Harris-Perry. The students,
Medford, N.Y. (
Gardena, Calif. (
University of California –
Miami, Fla. (
University of Florida –
Orange, Tex. (
Freed-Hardeman University) and
Chesterfield, Mo. (
Pomona College/Caltech), joined in conversations about today's educational system, sharing ideas and concerns about the rising cost of a college education.
"Students are graduating today with more than
$25,000 in debt, hindering them with years of financial burden," said GM Foundation President
Vivian Pickard. "Through the Buick Achievers Scholarship Program, the GM Foundation is able to alleviate some of those financial hurdles, while fostering the growth of the next generation of leaders for STEM-related fields."
The program comes at a time when there are less than 1,500 math and science graduates for every 100,000 employed 25- to 34-year-olds in
the United States, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In fact,
the United States ranks 27th among developed nations where college students receive undergraduate degrees in science.
This year's recipients represent every state in the nation. Additionally, 527 of the students are the first in their family to attend college while 73 recipients come from military families.