With the rising cost of tuition, scholarships make college a reality for many students across the U.S.
For students enrolled in UH’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the British American Foundation of Texas (BAFTX) is a generous benefactor and true supporter of STEM education.
In less than 10 years, BAFTX has provided 55 scholarships to NSM students, totaling $205,000. The organization has pledged 15 more scholarships over the next three years.
“Our mission is to offer academic funding to gifted and ambitious students from very low income households in Texas,” said Kay Thomson, BAFTX executive director.
While the organization has scholarship agreements with several colleges in Texas, UH is a natural partner.
“Our location in Houston makes University of Houston our closest four-year college and most obvious academic partner,” Thomson said. “Over the years, we have seen UH grow and innovate and continue to provide BAFTX with excellent scholars.”
The organization originally began its UH partnership by supporting engineering students, as the majority of BAFTX’s donors are from the energy sector. However, they soon became aware of funding needs within NSM. BAFTX now supports both NSM and engineering students.
“Many NSM majors are extremely important to the energy sector, and our energy-sector donors are keen to support NSM students,” Thomson said. “The quality of students from NSM – their drive, their maturity, their academic excellence – makes it easy for BAFTX to fund their education.”
BAFTX hopes their scholarships allow students to complete their education to the best of their ability, without the extra pressure that lack of finances can bring.
“We hope to level the playing field, to ensure that education is not just accessible to those who can afford it,” she said. “Education is the most powerful tool to improve our community, economy and industry.”
BAFTX loves hearing success stories from the students at the annual scholarship banquet and from graduates who are now beginning their careers.
“When we hear the careers our scholars are building for themselves and the heights they can achieve when that single barrier of funding is removed, it spurs us on to fundraise more and increase the scholarships we offer each year,” Thomson said.
Thomson became a member of the NSM Dean’s Advisory Board this year. That experience is providing her with a closer look at NSM, its faculty, activities and students.
“Being on the Advisory Board, I now see how NSM strives to support its students, placing them at the center of its strategy, and how the focus and drive at the senior faculty level filters through the college,” she said.
BAFTX is on a mission to support access to education and student success. Thomson, the BAFTX board and its benefactors take that mission seriously.
“We have a duty to ensure our scholarships are allocated to the most deserving students who can optimize this funding and really turn it into a successful future. This is why we support students from NSM.”
Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics