close up of lights on a computer chip

3M Diversity Scholarship leads sophomore to computer engineering—and inspiring others

When Emma Grant visited Ramsey Middle School in south Minneapolis a few months ago, to serve as a math tutor as part of the Honors Experience requirements in the University Honors Program, students asked her if she was being paid.

“I said ‘no,’” Grant laughs, “So they asked me, why was I doing this? I said ‘I enjoy teaching. I enjoy math, and I want to help others enjoy it. I want young people to know that there are people who actually like math!’”

The Watertown, Minn., sophomore and self-proclaimed math nerd is thrilled that 3M opened the Diversity Scholarship to all CSE majors after initially limiting it to three majors.

“That made me really happy,” Grant said, because while she started out thinking she might want to study chemical engineering, she switched to computer engineering a few months later.

The road to CSE

Grant has enjoyed science and math for “as far back as I can remember,” so much so that in fifth grade, her teacher recommended she skip a grade in math. (Grant is still in touch with that teacher and several others.)

She feels lucky to have grown up with supportive parents—her mother is a veterinarian and her father works in banking—and encouraging teachers, whose in influence superseded lingering societal pressures that discourage many girls from pursuing STEM subjects.

Grant recalls being prompted to take a computer programming class her senior year of high school by a friend who hated the class.

“She described computer programming to me and I immediately thought, ‘that actually sounds really cool!’” Grant said.

She’s thankful to have spent her freshman year in one of the University’s Living Learning Communities, sharing a dorm room with an electrical engineering student from Malaysia.

“I think it’s awesome we have these communities, where you’re around a lot of other students who are in the same classes. It’s nice to be able to talk with them and do homework with them,” Grant said.

This past fall, she shared an apartment with the same roommate.

Keeping her eye on academics

Grant said that the Diversity Scholarship lifted an enormous financial weight from her family’s shoulders, and freed her to fully dedicate herself to academic excellence. She receives additional support from the President’s Scholarship and the University Honors Program Scholarship.

Grant also loves the fact that the University is fairly close to home, yet feels in many ways like it’s in its own universe.

“My dad is extra happy because he works in the Twin Cities now and then. So he’s able to swing by sometimes,” Grant said, joking that he’d probably come even more often if she let him.

Women role models

She looks forward to seeing the number of women of color in CSE and computer engineering continue to grow. Rhonda Franklin, professor of electrical and computer engineering, has been a great role model for her.

“I really admire Professor Franklin, the example she has set, and what I can potentially achieve,” Grant said.

“I know it’s harder for some kids, who don’t have as much support as others. There are a lot of barriers,” she added. “The 3M scholarship has definitely helped me on my journey toward the beginning of my future I’m honored to have been a recipient.”

Story by Susan Maas

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