On Wednesday, February 12, 2020, Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted attended and spoke at the 12th annual Choose Ohio First Scholar Showcase. Lt. Governor Husted created the Choose Ohio First Scholarship in 2008 while he was Speaker of the Ohio House for students pursuing higher education in the science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM) fields. The scholarship is state-funded and aimed at increasing the number of students graduating from STEMM programs. By developing Ohio’s workforce in these areas, the state becomes more competitive in STEMM employment and education.
The scholarship program is administered through the Department of Higher Education and provides funding to participating Ohio higher education institutions. There are 40 different participating institutions which offer a combined 111 STEMM programs. The institutions then provide scholarships to students enrolled in STEMM programs based on need and merit. To be eligible, students must be Ohio residents and enrolled full-time or part-time in an undergraduate or graduate program. Once selected, students become members of the Choose Ohio First Scholar cohort which has benefits such as advising, mentoring, internship opportunities, and research events.
These benefits may encourage students to complete their degree or certificate. Annual report data from Ohio universities and community colleges report that Choose Ohio First scholars graduate at twice the rate of all first-time undergraduate STEMM students. Additionally, 86% of scholarship recipients completed their STEMM program within six years compared to only 53% of non-scholarship recipients. In the 2018-2019 school year, 3,435 students were involved in the program. Over the next five years, the program will award $20,580,770 to students.
The annual Choose Ohio First Scholar Showcase provides an opportunity for Choose Ohio First scholars to demonstrate what they have learned in their program and talk about how the scholarship has affected them. The scholar showcase is part of the annual Ohio Education Technology Conference held at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Lt. Governor Husted championed Choose Ohio First 12 years ago when he was Speaker of the House of Representatives and he maintains an active role in supporting the program.