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Preparing the Future Scientists of Tomorrow

Paloma Ruiz

Paloma Ruiz '22

The Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program is delivering on its commitment to provide the resources and programming to retain top scholars in STEM and prepare the next generation of scientific leaders. With generous support, the merit-based program provides aspiring scientists with scholarships, opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research, a community of fellow scholars, leadership training and mentorship designed to pave the way for academic success and future achievement in STEM fields.

A generous $10 million commitment from an anonymous donor early in the Campaign for Carolina created critical momentum for the program. Shortly thereafter, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust committed a $5 million matching gift, which helped generate an additional $13.5 million in gifts from alumni and friends. Toward the end of the campaign, the initial lead donor was so inspired by the caliber of students and the program’s accomplishments in just five years that they gave an additional $7.5 million to fund full scholarships for even more scholars.

Full scholarships are critical to the purpose of the program, which stands as a national model of inclusive excellence, increasing access and affordability to STEM education and research. By preparing the best young scientists to earn Bachelor of Science degrees in STEM fields, more diverse students are going on to earn advanced degrees and moving into leadership positions in academia or industry.

Former Chancellor’s Science Scholar Paloma Ruiz ’22, who graduated with a B.S. in biology and a creative writing minor, embodies the mission of this program. As an aspiring scientist, a natural leader and volunteer in the UNC community, and a self-published author, Ruiz was able to experience all that Carolina has to offer while furthering her passion for quantitative biology. “A lot of students of color and minorities in STEM can slip through the cracks,” Ruiz said. “More than anything, I think the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program shows students like me that we belong in science and we deserve to be here.” Ruiz is currently a genetics Ph.D. student in the biosciences program at Stanford University.

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