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With Eye on Diversity, Air Products Funds Four Scholarships for Computer Science Majors

by Janelle Hill Jan 18, 2021

A Lehigh Valley industrial gas company is giving underrepresented computer science students at DeSales a major monetary boost. 

Air Products has awarded both Silvia Barajas and Abigail Suarez $5,000 scholarships for the Spring 2021 semester. The money will go toward tuition and related expenses, such as technology.

“When I first found out that I had won the scholarship, I was incredibly shocked, lost for words, and immediately so thankful. To me, this scholarship means I can continue to grow and learn in my field with less of a financial burden.” 

 Abigail Suarez ’23, computer science and mathematics double major

Air Products first reached out to the Career Development Center about the scholarships back in October. Melanie Vallone, assistant director of employer and alumni relations, coordinated with the company and computer science faculty members Annmarie Houck, chair of the Department of Mathematics/Computer Science; Dr. Pranshu Gupta, associate professor; Dr. Kathleen Ryan, associate professor; and Karen Ruggles, assistant professor, who were able to choose the recipients.  

“We are extremely grateful to Air Products for the scholarship opportunity offered to Silvia and Abigail,” says Houck. “These two young ladies are incredibly talented and most deserving of the award. They are two of our top students.”

To qualify, recipients must be computer science majors, need a 2.8 minimum GPA or higher, and have to be from an underrepresented population. 

Vallone, who also worked with Barajas and Suarez on their résumés and professional thank you messages, credits the Career Development Center’s longstanding rapport with Air Products with helping to secure the scholarships. She also points to the number of DeSales students who have completed internships and transitioned to full-time positions with the company. 

“We’re excited to work with organizations, like Air Products, that value diversity as a part of their culture and recruitment efforts, just like DeSales University values opportunities for a more diverse student population,” Vallone says. “This is a great opportunity for students to learn about the organization, perhaps get their foot in the door with an internship, and ultimately create a long-term employment relationship with a great local Lehigh Valley organization.” 

In addition to the spring scholarships, Air Products also will be awarding scholarships to two DeSales computer science majors in the fall. The scholarships are part of a $50,000 grant from the Air Products Foundation to provide 10 scholarships for minority or female students from DeSales, Muhlenberg College, and Kutztown University.