STEM program helps 11 Huskers clear path to graduation

· 3 min read

STEM program helps 11 Huskers clear path to graduation

The 2023 Spring Commencements were held this past weekend on City and Scott Campuses.

Ten University of Nebraska–Lincoln students who participate in the National Science Foundation-funded STEM CONNECT program will graduate in May 2023 and another will graduate in August 2023.

STEM CONNECT supports low-income students to persist in math and computer science intensive degrees, with emphasis on underrepresented minorities, women, rural and first-generation students. Because student success hinges on more than financial support, the STEM CONNECT program fosters students’ ability to succeed through professional development for students, academic support structures such as study groups, and mentorship, in addition to awarding up to $8,000 per year in scholarship funds.

Currently the program supports 40 students. STEM CONNECT began in Spring 2020 with a cohort of 10 students at UNL, seven of whom will have graduated by the end of this summer.

“The STEM CONNECT program completely changed my life path," said Ronit Gandhi, a biochemistry and mathematics double major, who started in the first cohort. "The support to focus on math redefined my interests and helped me choose a path that fits me better. With my experience as both a mentee and mentor, I feel that I have grown so much through my time in the program. The program introduced me to a new field of science and showed me how to navigate it."

STEM CONNECT is a partnership with Southeast Community College and Western Nebraska Community College, with students receiving scholarship support at all three campuses. The program has seen several community college students graduate and transfer to Nebraska, but this year represents the largest cohort of graduates from Nebraska. Currently, 15 of the students supported by the program are community college transfers, with six more expected over the next year.

Arielle Monson (from left), Ronit Gandhi, Michael Bean, Cleve Young, Philip Chohon and Spencer Schmidt graduated in May 2023 as part of the STEM CONNECT program. Other graduates not pictured are: Kaleb Buck, Grace Farson, Emmanuel Lopez Mateo (graduating

The following is a list of STEM CONNECT scholars at Nebraska who will graduate in May or August 2023 (one student's information has been omitted due to the nature of their chosen profession):

Michael Bean, B.S. in mathematics, Bellevue, Nebraska
Bean plans to join the workforce as a statistician or data scientist.

Kaleb Buck, B.S. in computer science, Columbus, Nebraska
Buck has accepted a full-time offer from NRC Health as a software engineer.

Philip Chohon, B.S. in mathematics, Wahoo, Nebraska
Chohon has accepted an internship at LI-COR as an applications analyst.

Grace Farson, B.S. in mathematics, Papillion, Nebraska
Farson will continue her education at the University of Wisconsin, pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering.

Ronit Gandhi, B.S. in biochemistry and B.S. mathematics, Omaha, Nebraska
Gandhi will continue his education at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, pursuing a Ph.D. in biostatistics.

Emmanuel Lopez Mateo, B.S. in computer science, Saline County, Nebraska
Lopez Mateo plans to join the workforce as a software developer.

Arielle Monson, B.S. in computer science, Orion, Illinois
Monson has accepted a full-time offer from Nelnet, working in the IT Infrastructure department.

Alexander Muenster, B.S. in mathematics, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Muenster plans to become a Naval Officer following graduation.

Spencer Schmidt, B.S. in mathematics and geology, Diller, Nebraska
Schmidt has accepted a position working with Olsson as a field geologist.

Cleve Young, B.S. in mathematics, Decatur, Nebraska
Young will continue his education at Nebraska, pursuing a Ph.D. in mathematics. He will be funded by the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

STEM CONNECT is funded by the National Science Foundation’s S-STEM program (DUE-1930211). Learn more at

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