STEM CONNECT aids in transition from WNCC

Gracey Perez
Gracey Perez

When Western Nebraska Community College introduced the STEM CONNECT scholarship program, Gracey Perez knew she had to apply.

STEM CONNECT is a five year, $3.56 million grant from the National Science Foundation for WNCC, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Southeast Community College. The grant funds scholarships and academic support for talented, low-income students with an emphasis on helping underrepresented minorities, women, first-generation, and rural students.

Successful applicants must demonstrate an interest in entering a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) related field. The scholarship offers up to $8,000 per year for two years at WNCC and is transferrable to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for an additional two years if the student wishes to continue their education.

Perez, a Computer Science major from Gordon, Nebraska, was looking for ways to help pay for her valuable education. But she was also attracted by the STEM CONNECT program’s ability to introduce her to students and professionals who can assist her transition into an academic university like UNL and a future career.

“I am so very grateful to be able to transfer to one of the schools that I have always wanted to attend, without a fear of it being a financial burden on me,” Perez said. “I’m excited for what is to come, and I look forward to what I will accomplish with this scholarship to help me.”

Perez knows there is more to the award than financial aid. It is also a way to build a strong network.

“I’m excited to meet people who can help me academically or broaden my horizons by introducing me to new ideas. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I plan on making the most of it,” she said.

This Fall 2020, WNCC STEM CONNECT Scholar Braeden Struempler and Southeast Community College Scholar Mohammed Sbai will be transferring to UNL to continue their journeys in STEM.

To learn more about the STEM CONNECT program, visit, or

- Dr. Scott Schaub, Engineering Instructor