About MACHS Scholars

Thanks to an almost $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Merrimack will fully fund up to 20 low-income academic scholars looking to major in one of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines. The first cohort of students will be selected in spring 2021 and will matriculate in the fall.

Supporting Low-Income STEM Students

Research reveals that underprivileged students transitioning from high school to undergraduate STEM programs face many hurdles, including:

  • inadequate academic preparation
  • loss of motivation
  • difficulty adjusting to a college environment

Additionally, low-income students are more likely than their peers to leave STEM fields and leave college entirely. By changing the undergraduate experience of low-income STEM students, Merrimack faculty hope to enrich their college experience and better prepare them for careers in their chosen fields.

MACHS Scholars Programming

MACHS Scholars will spend two hours together as a cohort each week in a class targeting four program areas.

The first hour of the class will focus on academics. The second hour will be led by a mental health clinician, who will focus programming on specific themes and objectives.

Topics will change each year and address adjustment to college, career exploration, applying academic skills and career readiness.

Additional Program Benefits

Benefits of the MACHS Scholars Program

The MACHS Scholars Program provides financial, academic and social support to high-achieving STEM students from a variety of different backgrounds. A key element of the program is its unique holistic support. To reduce stress and promote success, students will be encouraged to develop and maintain their mental health, wellness and mindfulness. They will also have the opportunity to engage with a mental health clinician on an as-needed basis throughout their undergraduate program. Additional benefits include:

Generous Tuition Assistance

Each recipient is eligible for up to $8,100 per academic year. The maximum award per recipient is $32,400.

The program is projected to fund 20 STEM students in the School of Science and Engineering over five years: seven students in 2022, seven students in 2023 and six students in 2024.

Summer Bridge Program

MACHS Scholars participate in a five-day bridge program to help them adjust to college life and form strong peer networks.

Cohort-specific programming includes academic achievement, experiential learning, self-efficacy, and mental health and wellness. Students also review math study skills, college reading and writing, martial arts, mindfulness, and career and financial planning.

First Year Experience

Like other first-year students, MACHS Scholars will participate in Merrimack College’s one-credit First Year Experience course, which is taught by an instructor from the student’s academic area.

Funded Undergraduate Research

The grant provides for students to conduct research in a professor’s lab. This allows students who would normally have to work off-campus to instead focus on their laboratory knowledge and skills.

MACHS Scholars Research Outcomes

Co-curricular Activities

The grant will help students develop “soft skills” that will teach them how to network with other STEM professionals, explore potential career pathways and take part in practical experiences such as internships and research projects. The O’Brien Center for Career Development and Internship Institute will provide career and internship services to all students in the MACHS Scholars program.

Funding for MACHS Scholars

The MACHS Scholars grant was led by Principal Investigator, Dr. Rickey Caldwell, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. Caldwell was inspired to write the grant to attract students who might not otherwise seek STEM degrees—whether they face financial or cultural barriers, or they simply do not have role models in a STEM field.

Caldwell collaborated with a number of co-principal investigators at Merrimack across disciplines to design the grant’s wraparound support and program evaluation tools. Co-principal investigators include Dr. Gwyne White (Psychology), Dr. Brandi Baldock (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Dr. William McDowell (Biology), Dr. Russell Olwell (Education and Social Policy), and Dr. Julia St. Goar (Mathematics).

“As a person of color, I realized, as I was moving through the ranks in engineering, that I didn’t see other brown people in the field. I thought, what is happening that these individuals aren’t making it through? How can we resolve this issue?”

― Rickey Caldwell, assistant professor, mechanical engineering