DuPont’s donation Thursday of MacBooks to 50 Delaware State University graduate students in science and math curriculums satisfied school and student needs.
It also gave a helping hand to those a little further down the job pipeline on the way to becoming future scientists.
The donation, which also included paying the students’ fees to attend a conference for Black chemists and chemical engineers, was part of DuPont’s commitment to STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — and to the state of Delaware, said Alexa Dembek, Chief Technology & Sustainability Officer at DuPont, in an interview after the ceremony.
The high-end laptops will help the students achieve the objectives of a research university, which involves tracking, parsing and comparing data, she said.
“One of the professors in the chemistry department today actually addressed the importance of computational chemistry in data science to the future, and how, in order for science to advance, we need the best tools,” Dembek said.
DSU long has given undergraduate students MacBooks and iPads when they enter school. Last year, they were able to expand that program to also give them to students in DSU’s Early College High School.
The university this year also was able to include 90 grad students in the College of Agriculture, Science and Technology as well as graduate students in the new Masters in Occupational Therapy program transitioned from Wesley College.
DuPont sponsored registration fees for the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers conference to be held virtually Sept. 15-17. The chemical giant has just hired four students involved with that conference, who will be ready to mentor grad students, Dembek said.
DSU and du Pont have had a long partnership, and Dembek said it was great to celebrate it today at a ceremony which gave the laptops away.
“We’ve been intensely working together over the past several years with laboratory visits, job shadowing, mentoring and innovative career pathways,” said Dr. Cherese Winstead, dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Technology. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students, and it built a recognition at DuPont that we needed better individual technology to support these graduate researchers at the very beginning of their careers.”
“For me, and for dozens of other students this is a game-changer,” said Jamie Holmes, a Ph.D. student in applied chemistry. “Knowing that I’ve got my own, high-end laptop for classes, in the lab, and when I visit places like DuPont research facilities not only improves my work but also helps me project a more professional appearance.”
Thursday’s MacBook program came during Historically Black Colleges and Universities Week and a day after DSU President Tony Allen was named chair of President Joe Biden’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“It was a really magical way to celebrate what that means, what it means for Delaware, and what it means for HBCUs in general with DuPont’s commitment,” Dembek said. “To do this today really was a special honor. We were all humbled to be with Dr. Allen.”
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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