Four high school seniors have been named recipients of the 2012
ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship by the Council
of the Great City Schools (CGCS). Students were selected from
several hundred applicants for their academic performance, leadership
qualities and community involvement.
The scholarship program was created by former NASA astronaut Dr.
Bernard Harris Jr., the first African American to walk in space, and
Foundation to help underrepresented students pursue science,
technology, engineering and math (STEM) studies and to increase
diversity in the STEM workforce.
The awards are given annually to two African-American and two Hispanic
seniors from high schools in the 67 urban school districts represented
These scholarships provide an enormous opportunity for talented urban
students who have the academic promise and drive to succeed in STEM
postsecondary studies and careers, said Michael Casserly, executive
director, Council of the Great City Schools. The generous support of
the ExxonMobil Foundation and Dr. Harris will truly give our young men
and women a boost in their pursuits.
Each scholar will receive $5,000 for continued education in a
STEM-related field. This years award winners are:
Mr. Mark Ballard, Ramsay High School, Birmingham City Schools (Alabama)
Simone Biggers, Walter Hines Page High School, Guilford County Schools
Mr. Michael Castaño, Southwest Miami Senior High
School, Miami-Dade Public Schools (Florida)
Ms. Fiorella Vargas,
Cypress Bay High School, Broward County Public Schools (Florida)
In the fall, Ballard will attend Auburn University to study electrical
engineering. Biggers plans to major in biology at University of North
Carolina Chapel Hill. Castaño is going to Massachusetts Institute of
Technology to pursue a career in engineering and law, and Vargas will
study biomedical engineering at Harvard University.
These scholarships are one way of preparing promising youth for math
and science achievement both inside and outside the classroom, said Dr.
Harris. With the help of the ExxonMobil Foundation, I am proud to
support the development of innovative young minds and honor these
students as they create a brighter future for themselves and our
Administration of the scholarship program including the application
process, pre-selection and presentation of awards, is provided by the
CGCS. Dr. Harris participates in the final selection of the recipients.
About The Council of the Great City Schools
The Council of the Great City Schools is the only national organization
exclusively representing the needs of urban public schools. Composed of
67 large city school districts, its mission is to promote the cause of
urban schools and to advocate for inner-city students through
legislation, research and media relations. The organization also
provides a network for school districts sharing common problems to
exchange information, and to collectively address new challenges as they
emerge in order to deliver the best possible education for urban youth. www.cgcs.org
About ExxonMobil Foundation
ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon
Mobil Corporation in the United States. In the United States, ExxonMobil
and the ExxonMobil Foundation support initiatives to improve math and
science education at the K-12 and higher education levels. In 2011,
together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation
(NYSE:XOM), its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation
provided $278 million in contributions worldwide, of which $120 million
was dedicated to education. Additional information on ExxonMobils
community partnerships and contributions programs is available at www.exxonmobil.com/community.
About The Harris Foundation
Founded in 1998, The Harris Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), non-profit
organization based in Houston, Texas, whose overall mission is to invest
in community-based initiatives to support education, health and wealth.
The foundation supports programs that empower individuals, in particular
minorities and economically and/or socially disadvantaged, to recognize
their potential and pursue their dreams.
The Education Mission of The Harris Foundation is to enable youth to
develop and achieve their full potential through the support of social,
recreational, and educational programs. The Harris Foundation believes
that students can be prepared now for the careers of the future through
a structured education program and the use of positive role models. More
than 15,000 students annually participate and benefit from THF programs. www.theharrisfoundation.org