Instilling a passion for science and academic excellence is the foundation of Iowa State University's Science Bound program. For the past 25 years,
has empowered Iowa students of color to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields, and the Gomez family is a testament to its success.
industrial engineering), Victor (
senior, electrical engineering), Natasha (
junior, kinesiology), and Thomas (
freshman, pre-engineering) Gomez say the exposure to STEM careers and opportunities to participate in hands-on research helped fuel their interest in science. But the siblings also credit Science Bound for helping them stay focused in high school, and giving them the confidence to pursue a degree they might not have considered.
"I don't think most students are taught at a young age that they have what it takes and that's something Science Bound does really well," Victor Gomez said.
The program draws students from middle and high schools in Des Moines, Denison, and Marshalltown. Science Bound students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average every semester in high school; participate in activities to develop science, math, leadership, and communication skills; and dedicate 40 hours every
summer to academic development
or career exploration programs. Students who complete these requirements are offered a four-year, full-tuition scholarship. More than 500 Science Bound graduates have been offered scholarships and 113 hold degrees from Iowa State.
"It's important for our students to develop a passion for academic excellence," said Connie Hargrave, an associate professor of education and Science Bound director. "Science Bound not only gives them the space to excel, but we expect them to excel. It gives them a place to belong in a community of young people who are smart, engaged, college bound, and headed into demanding technical fields. It's important for all of us to see students of color excelling academically."