KITSAP COUNTY — Sixty high school scholars from the West Sound STEM Network — of which South Kitsap School District is a member — were part of a group of 1,862 students associated with the public-private partnership Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS) who are eligible to receive up to $1,350,000 in scholarship support to attend universities and colleges in this state.
Sixteen students from South Kitsap High School were awarded up to $22,500 each for a total of $360,000 in scholarship money.
This group of scholarship recipients represents the seventh since WSOS was created in 2011. Each scholarship provides up to $22,500 in financial aid, along with innovative student support services, designed to reduce barriers for students to pursue high-demand science, technology engineering, math (STEM) or healthcare degree and launch a career in Washington state, according to partnership officials.
The network is housed within South Kitsap School District and equitably serves all network members. It is a collaboration of educators, business leaders and representatives from local government and the military who are working to introduce and link students, teachers and the community to science, technology, engineering and mathematics resources in this region, partnership officials said.
This year’s applicant pool represents the most competitive yet, with nearly 5,000 applications submitted — 1,000 additional applicants than the prior year. Local STEM networks partnering with the statewide nonprofit Washington STEM have helped raise the awareness of WSOS in communities throughout the state, said Karst Brandsma, superintendent of South Kitsap School District.
“By leveraging the collective expertise of our network, we are proud that 60 West Sound STEM Network students are receiving such an exceptional scholarship,” Brandsma said. “Fostering opportunities for youth in STEM is essential to a Future Ready Washington.”
Supporting STEM education across the state is critical to Washington’s future economy, said Dr. Aaron Leavell, superintendent of Bremerton School District.
“The WSOS scholarships for students in our region are just one example of the collaborative nature of West Sound STEM Network,” Leavell said. “Our commitment to equity for area youth and access to opportunities from cradle to career is paramount.”
WSOS has supported more than 6,700 scholars so far from every county and legislative district in Washington state, said Dr. Kareen Borders, director of West Sound STEM Network. Borders said WSOS will serve 16,000 by 2025, thanks to public and private support.
The South Kitsap students awarded scholarships are: Grace Ebuen, Bruce Clarke, Kellsie Delgado, Marcello Parrott, Alyssa Gilliam, Sarah Brown, Matthew Morrison, Emily Busha, Tammy Luu, Jake Clarke, Emily Reeder, Anthony Bonilla, Alexis Mercer, Bailey Smith, Gabrielle Lund and Ian Conte.