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Four Latino Angelenos win scholarships for math, science

November 10, 2009 |  6:05 pm

In an effort to bring more Latino youth into science and technology, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health today announced 10 students (four of them Angelenos) won a $42,500 scholarship for college tuition and internship support.

Over the next five years, the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program will award a total of 50 students who plan to major in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. In addition, 125 students will receive one-time $2,000 scholarship.

“The new century of discovery and innovation is really going to be dependent on whether we make investments today in Hispanic youth,” said Adolph Falcon, alliance senior vice president.

The program, which targets students of Hispanic descent in Los Angeles, Brownsville, TX and Elizabeth, NJ, is funded through a $4-million grant from the Merck Company Foundation, the pharmaceutical giant’s philanthropic initiative.

The scholarship will also connect scholars with two mentors – one on-campus, and another whose interests and field match each student’s.

According to Falcon, mentoring helps ensure that Latino students who express an interest in science or math related fields don't get derailed during their four years at college.

Alejandro Aguirre, a Boyle Heights native who started at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall, said he “jumped up and down” when he found out he had won the scholarship. Aguirre, who turns 18 tomorrow, served as president of the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program at Roosevelt High, where helped build a solar-powered boat that took second place in the rookie division of the Metropolitan Water District's 2008 Solar Cup.

The Alliance today also opened up the application process for next year’s round of scholars, with an application deadline of February 15, 2010. Interested students can apply at www.alliancescholars.org or call 1-866-783-2645.

--Amina Khan