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With the goal of changing local minority students’ lives through increasing the visibility of STEM opportunities, Mone’t Alberts, a biomedical engineering doctoral student at Boise State, has been awarded a $1,000 Hometown Challenge Scholarship.

Launched this year, the summer scholarship provides students with the financial support to develop and implement a project that will have a significant impact on their local communities.

For Alberts, this means building a comprehensive, online web-based platform of resources that will provide Boise-area high school and college minority students with the tools, contacts, opportunities and information that could prove pivotal to their educational and professional success.

As a native Idahoan, Alberts understands acutely the disparate opportunities and education made available to minority students, and felt that the Hometown Challenge scholarship was the perfect vehicle to do this valuable work.

“I think it’s just really important, especially in Idaho, because we don’t have a very diverse population, so no-one really thinks about creating a space for minority students. Growing up, I was one of, like, four Black kids that went to my school.”

As a first-generation minority student, Alberts’s experience entering higher education involved an immense amount of fortitude and exploration, as she had not received any preparation on how to navigate the college application process, or where to find funding, or even what specific degrees and fields were available.

“When I started college, I started in psychology and criminal justice,” said Alberts. “I didn’t even know that there were different types of engineering when I started college. I thought ‘there’s only engineers that build stuff, and that’s not really what I want to do.’ I didn’t know that biomedical engineering was a thing, and something that I’m really interested in and I’m getting my PhD in.”

Through her own tenacity, and with support and mentorship from the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship (2020) program and dedicated faculty, Alberts earned her bachelors in materials science and engineering in spring 2020. In addition to her educational achievements, Alberts is the communications officer for the National Society of Black Engineers, and a member of the LSAMP program. She is the recipient of the Engineering Dean’s Scholarship, the Brown Engineering Award and the Kem Gardner Scholarship. Alberts also was the first place recipient of the Boise State University President’s Writing Award for her essay, “What is your race? Check ONE.”

She was the only minority student in her graduating class and feels called to help fellow minority students even more strongly because of it.

“I know a lot of minority students that I went to school with didn’t go to college, mostly because they didn’t know it was available to them. They didn’t know that there were opportunities for them, there were scholarships specifically for them and organizations for them that they could use. So it’s important to me to just be able to get that word out to students around the area because increasing diversity in STEM fields is something that’s really important to me.”

Following the completion of her Hometown Challenge, Alberts intends to reach out to local school superintendents, faculty and students to bring their attention to the opportunities that exist at Boise State for students to gain hands-on experience and knowledge about higher education.