Posted March 4, 2009

Carver Fair Scholarships bring top science students to Temple

Hundreds of Philadelphia's brightest students showcase their science, technology and mathematics skills at the annual science event


  • The George Washington Carver medallion, given to winning science fair students.

Each March, hundreds of Philadelphia's brightest middle and high school students file into McGonigle and Pearson Halls to showcase their science, technology and mathematics skills in the annual George Washington Carver Science Fair. Now, thanks to the Temple University/George Washington Carver Science Fair Academic Tuition Scholarship Program, some of those students are also filing into Temple classrooms each semester.

For the past six years, Temple has been offering two scholarships each year to Carver Science Fair students who place either first or second among the 11th grade participants in the fair. To be eligible for the scholarship, science fair winners must apply to Temple, graduate from high school in the top 25 percent of their class with a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) or better and have SAT Critical Reading and Math Scores of 1,000 or higher. The scholarships are for $2,500 and renewable for a total of four years, contingent on students maintaining a 3.0 cumulative GPA in full time study.

The scholarship program was established through the collaborative efforts of Carver Science Fair Co-founder, Director and Chairperson Thomas Anderson Jr. and former Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Timm Rinehart.

"A lot of students had been coming to Temple for the science fair for five years -- since the 7th grade," said Anderson, a former Temple associate vice president for community affairs who worked at the university for 31 years until his retirement in 2004. "And some of these kids were going on to MIT, the University of Pittsburgh or Penn State. We needed to get more of them enrolling at Temple."

Anderson said the science fair provided an excellent opportunity for Temple to recruit since many of the students competing in the fair are in the tops of the high school class.

"I had a really good relationship with Timm Rinehart, so I encouraged him to get involved," said Anderson. "So the two of us got together and we came up with the idea for these scholarships."

There are currently three Temple/Carver Science Fair scholarship recipients enrolled at Temple: two in the College of Engineering and one in the Fox School of Business. Next September, the two most recent scholarship winners will join them in the College of Science and Technology.

Anderson makes an announcement and distributes fliers about the scholarships throughout the day-long fair, which will be held this year on March 10. The scholarship is announced again 2-3 days later during the awards ceremonies. That second reminder proved valuable for the scholarship's first recipient, sophomore electrical engineering major Sudarshan Kandi, from Northeast Philadelphia.

"I basically ignored it when I won first place in 11th grade because I thought it was too soon to be thinking about scholarships," said Kandi, who hopes to pursue a career in research and development. "But come 12th grade, when I was looking at finances for college my father remembered hearing about this scholarship during the awards ceremony. I contacted Mr. Anderson and applied."

Kandi said that winning the Temple/Carver Science Fair helped influence his decision to attend Temple.

"Money was a big issue when I was deciding on colleges. When Temple and the Carver Science Fair awarded me this scholarship, I started thinking very seriously about Temple and its College of Engineering."

The scholarship also helped influence Haoxiang Ruan, a freshman mechanical engineering major from Northeast Philadelphia, who came to the United States from China with his family.

"My family came to America from China four years ago, so they don't have much money to support my education," said Ruan. "The fact that this scholarship covers about one-fifth of my tuition influenced my decision to come to Temple."

Anderson stays in touch with the scholarship winners, checking on their academic progress and offering assistance if they are encountering problems.

"I'm very proud of the program and how it has taken off," he said. "By next year we'll have five Carver Science Fair scholars here and I'm going to make sure they all do well."