Skye Taylor was only eight years old when she realized she wanted to be an engineer. During a family trip to Walt Disney World in Florida, Taylor found herself more interested in how the attractions worked than she was in the princesses or parades.
“I wanted to know how the rides were built, and what it took to keep them running safely,” she said. “My parents told me that was a job that engineers do, and from then on I was hooked.”
Taylor is now pursuing her dream by studying mechanical engineering at Southern University in Baton Rouge. She is one of three first-year engineering students at Southern who received scholarships from Sasol Chemicals through the Future of STEM Scholars Initiative (FOSSI), a national program founded by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Chemours and HBCU Week Foundation.
Carlton Carter, a freshman from Georgia majoring in mechanical engineering, says his FOSSI scholarship has already proven invaluable.
“The money really, really helps,” he said. “It made a big difference, knowing I could count on that funding. Plus, the mentoring program has been very helpful. It’s given me insight into how business works and what I can expect once I finish my degree.”
Brenden Evans, a Southern freshman from Los Angeles who is majoring in civil engineering, is also a pitcher on the Jaguars baseball team.
“The FOSSI scholarship means a lot because I don’t have to worry about my financial needs,” he said. “I can just focus on academics and baseball.”
FOSSI scholarship benefits extend beyond its monetary value
Like Carter, Evans says the program is about more than money. “I really appreciate the mentorship component,” he said. “You can learn so much about how to be successful at work and what it takes to move up the ranks. It’s not just about school.”
Taylor said that despite completing an early college program while in high school, and earning her associate’s degree, she was uncertain how she would afford the expense of a university.
“I first learned about FOSSI through Southern’s Top Jags program (a recruiting/support program for high achieving students), but I wasn’t sure about applying,” she said. “I’m so happy I did because the scholarship really helped me. When I got the call, I was driving so my mom answered my phone, and when she heard that I had gotten a scholarship, she just started screaming. I had to pull the car over!”
SASOL FOSSI Scholars' message to high school students interested in STEM
All three recipients say high school students interested in STEM shouldn’t hesitate to apply for a FOSSI scholarship.
“It’s a very smooth process,” said Evans. “The program is so well run, and everyone is so welcoming.”
“Apply,” says Taylor. “You never know what can happen, and you may just be selected.