By Naylie Vélez Figueroa
Río Piedras – UPR
After standing out in the disciplines of computer science and mathematics, 10 students from the Río Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico (RRP-UPR) received scholarships and academic support through an innovative initiative, attached to the Faculty of Natural Sciences
Axel Gómez Flores, José Rodríguez Ríos, Valerie Yace Carrión, José Oyola Cortés, Gabriela Lozano Pérez, Cynthia Rivera Sánchez, Ariam Acevedo López, Sofia Crespo Maldonado, Gabriel Santiago Plaza and Eduardo Santín Martínez, were awarded by the ScholarCOMPASS program with financial aid.
The ScholarCOMPASS project provides financial aid to Computer Science and Mathematics students with the purpose of investing as much time as possible in their studies and achieving graduation from their respective programs within the time provided by the curricular sequence.
“This scholarship helped me dedicate myself to mathematical research without having to look for a
part-time job. I am convinced that this contributed to the fact that I was accepted into several of the best mathematics graduate schools in the United States with very good financial offers, for which I am very grateful, “said Axel O. Gómez Flores, one of undergraduate students who received the grant.
According to Gómez Flores, hundreds of young people and residents on the island would like to study and start a career in computer science or mathematics. However, some have financial needs that force them to look for a part-time job and limit their academic time.
“With this scholarship, young people like us can dedicate those hours of work to research, which is what we really want. This also benefits us to progress faster in research and strengthen our curriculum, something very important for those who are interested in continuing graduate studies.”, added the university student, who is about to complete his bachelor’s degree in Pure Mathematics.
For the student Cynthia M. Rivera Sánchez, this initiative represented an opportunity to pay for expenses, which the federal grant does not cover. When applying for help, he never imagined that his name would be among those selected.
“I was positive, but the reality is that I did not think they would choose me”, assured the universitarian, who is in her second academic year. In addition, she affirmed that the scholarship can contribute to the development of the students of the Rio Piedras campus, since it makes economic need not represent a limitation at the time of studying.
The 19 year old, a native of Juncos, explained that the initiative requires participants to have a mentor, which is beneficial in the process. Mentoring allows a person with greater knowledge to contribute to the academic and professional development of students.
“My advice to young people who want to apply for this help is that, even though they think they are not going to get it, apply however they want. The reality is that life can surprise you and you may earn it … It is a great gain for your future”, concluded Rivera Sánchez.
A program that forges dreams
ScholarCOMPASS offers annual scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students. This program is supported by a grant of $992,789 from the National Science Foundation (NSF), which it received last year.
To determine the amount of financial aid, the program takes into consideration the academic year of the students who apply. The scholarship for freshmen would be $1,250, while sophomores onwards would get $4,250. Graduate students, meanwhile, could receive up to $9,000 annually.
The program also offers tutorials and mentoring (PLTL: Peer Led Team Learning) in classes identified as ‘barrier courses’. Subjects include Precalculus I, Precalculus II, Calculus, Discrete Mathematics, Introduction to Programming, and Data Structures.
“One of the objectives of this project is to give more visibility to computing. Encourage more people with diverse backgrounds to study Mathematics and / or Computer Science, and let others know that the Computer Science alternative exists at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras”, assured professor and director of the program José Ortiz Ubarri.
For the country’s youth to acquire more knowledge in the area, the project will offer guidance in schools to educate on what it means to study these disciplines and their importance in society. Schools interested in coordinating an orientation for their students can also request it through the mail:
On the other hand, students interested in applying for the scholarship should access the following link: