Seven Universities Support GRPS Engineering/Biomed Program, Three Students Land Gates Scholarships

Seven Universities Support GRPS Engineering/Biomed Program, Three Students Land Gates Scholarships

Thursday, April 29, 2010/Rapid Growth Media


By Deborah Johnson Wood

Three graduating students of the innovative Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program (GRAPCEP) have earned Gates Millennium Scholarships – the highest number awarded to any Michigan school in 2010.


A program of Davenport University, GRAPCEP was launched in 2004 with partners Grand Rapids Public Schools, Grand Valley State University and Van Andel Research Institute. For the 2009-10 school year, the program added Ferris State University, Kettering University, Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University to its planning, advisory and support consortium.


The program operates at Creston High School. Students attend regular high school academic classes in the high school building and college-prep classes in math, science and English in a separate building on-campus outfitted with a biochemistry laboratory and a physics lab.


"Our first priority is to give students such a strong high school education that they can handle the different laboratory courses and calculus in college without any remediation," says Sandra Burmeister, GRAPCEP executive director.


"Our second priority is that they go to college and succeed there," she adds. "We hope that a good percentage will continue in the science and engineering fields. Most of our students are economically disadvantaged and are ethnic minorities, so we're teaching those students who are traditionally under-represented in those fields."


Graduating seniors Storee Harris, Darrartu Ali and Saul Balle achieved national recognition recently when they earned coveted Gates Millennium Scholarships. The scholarships cover 100 percent of the students' undergrad education, personal expenses and room and board, says Burmeister. Students who maintain a satisfactory academic level are eligible for renewable awards and graduate funding in the areas of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health or science.


"Over ten years that could average out to about $300,000 per student," Burmeister says. "Our students graduating in May have already accumulated over $1 million in scholarships and with the Gates awards it approaches $2 million, which is huge."


A GRPS press release reports that 99 percent of GRAPCEP students graduate high school; over 90 percent enter college.


Burmeister adds that an average of 60 percent of those who attend college pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics studies.


Source: Sandra Burmeister, Davenport University; Grand Rapids Public Schools


Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at Development News tips can be sent to