A Latina created a platform that provides access to scholarships valued at almost $38 Million for Latinos and other students who are interested in STEM careers.
After seeing the large amount of scholarship money not being awarded due to a lack of applicants, Maria Trochimezuk (47) created IOScholarships. This free platform allows STEM students in high schools and colleges to search for scholarships, internships and work opportunities. It is based on GPA, merit, and financial background.
Trochimezuk stated that the goal is to make college more affordable for students and increase the number of Latinos studying STEM careers and degrees.
Trochimezuk, originally from Buenos Aires in Argentina, stated that he always had a vision of creating a community platform. It's unique because it focuses on underrepresented students, African American Latinos, Native American, and we also have scholarships for DACA applicants.
Trochimezuk stated that the platform is part of the National Scholarships Provider Association. It has provided access to almost 11,000 students about the diverse range of STEM scholarships available from foundations or corporations.
The platform was founded by her in March 2013. She first invested her personal savings, then secured funding through the Ureeka PowerUp grant program of Google. This program supports Latino-owned businesses.
Trochimezuk immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 on a postgraduate fellowship in marketing and public relation at the University of California Santa Barbara. Later, Trochimezuk was selected to participate in Stanford's prestigious Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative.
She was a part of public education campaigns at Google and other financial institutions that were focused on Latino community support.
She saw how scholarship money was not distributed because students weren't applying. Trochimezuk claimed that she was able pay her entire education through grants and scholarships.
The number of scholarships granted to students has increased 45 percent over the past decade. The NSPA estimates $100,000,000 in scholarships are not awarded each year because of a lack of applicants.
"We created scholarships for students that are now going to Stanford and MIT. These are bright, diverse students. They're Latino and Black. She said that it is crucial for companies to pay attention to these workers as they are the future innovators.
Although Latinos make up 17% of the total workforce in all occupations, they account for only 8% of all STEM-related jobs.
Trochimezuk hopes to reduce the gap between STEM college graduates and Latino college graduates. Pew Research 2018 data shows that the percentage of Latino college graduates who have a STEM degree is 12 percent lower than that of all college graduates (15 percent).
She said that more STEM degrees are also beneficial to the economy.
Trochimezuk stated that diversity is good for growth. He said, "You can create products, applications, and technology with people with different perspectives so the end product is better to everybody, it is better for corporations, it is better for consumers,"
Alyssa Garbarino is 21-year-old Latina first generation college student. She is currently studying biology at California State University Channel Islands. After graduating this spring, she hopes to go to medical school.
Garbarino heard about the platform from her best friend. She said that she was able to apply for scholarships she didn’t have before.
Garbarino said that he was not able to see many private scholarships like I do now on IOScholarships. He works as a babysitter for three days each week and does research for a research grant for 10 hours per week. "Now, I see an opportunity there."
Although the majority of Garbarino’s tuition is covered by loans from the government, she stated that she will continue to use the platform even after she graduates.
Garbarino stated, "I also see that there are a lot of great scholarships opportunities for postgraduate education." "So, if I wanted to pursue a postbacc or master's degree, perhaps to prepare for medical school," Garbarino said.
Trochimezuk stated that there are scholarships available between March-June. She encouraged students to visit the platform.