In an outdoor ceremony on Friday, Mazama High School inducted 21 current freshmen into the school’s STEM&M program, which partners with Oregon Institute of Technology to offer academic pathways in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine.
Those who complete the program qualify for more than $12,000 worth of OIT scholarships as well as other incentives and perks.
The early evening ceremony was set up on the campus lawn so parents could watch students sign contracts and take pictures. COVID-19 restrictions limit the number who can attend indoor gatherings. Representatives from the school district and OIT attended to congratulate the students.
STEM&M inductee Ava Atwood shakes hands with Mazama High School Principal Mike Schaefer after signing her contract.
Students were asked to choose a pathway though they are allowed to change their focus as they progress through the program. Jonathan Laitinen signed up for engineering.
“I want to do what I can to help financially when I go to college, and this motivates me to work hard academically and gain knowledge I need,” he said.
To apply for the STEM&M program, students had to submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation and an application essay. Mazama staff graded applications using a 240-point rubric. Students who scored 85 percent or higher were invited to join the STEM&M cohort.
At the induction ceremony, students signed STEM&M contracts stating they will keep their GPAs at a 3.0 or greater, take four credits of pathway coursework while at Mazama and take nine STEM&M Oregon Tech credits. The students also earn dual high school-college credits for many of the classes they take, graduating with an estimated 30 college credits already earned.
“I tell students they should leave as many opportunities open as possible,” said Laura Nickerson, STEM&M teacher and program coordinator. “They’re taking a great step by opening one door they may go through in four years.”
Mazama High School and Oregon Tech last year expanded the benefits of their STEM&M partnership, adding additional scholarship opportunities, two terms of free tuition and preferential access to selective Oregon Tech programs.
The Oregon Tech-Mazama STEM&M program started in the 2016-17 school year. School officials, who had agreed to re-evaluate STEM&M’s memorandum of understanding (MOU) after three years, decided to add incentives to the successful program. The new MOU has an expanded benefits package that ranges in value between $12,450 to $18,550, up from $10,500.
STEM&M students admitted to Oregon Tech fall term following high school graduation are eligible for the following benefits (eligibility is based on meeting program guidelines and GPA requirements):
- First and last term tuition remission
- Presidential Scholarship
- $1,500 Owls Scholarship
- $1,000 Klamath County Scholarship
- Application fee waiver
- Summer High School Transition course tuition waiver for STEM&M juniors and seniors
- Retained eligibility for Summer High School Transition courses for graduating seniors with confirmed Oregon Tech enrollment
- STEM&M only New Wings registration event
- Preferential access to selective Oregon Tech competitive programs (excludes dental hygiene and OHSU programs.)
There are a wide variety of perks that come with being a STEM&M student, Nickerson said. In addition to the benefits offered by Oregon Tech, STEM&M students receive a Chromebook for as long as they are in the program and recognition at graduation.
A new group of freshman can apply each spring, starting the program sophomore year. For information about STEM&M, email coordinator Laura Nickerson at firstname.lastname@example.org.