UMass Amherst and Wal-Mart Award Technology Scholarships to Two First-Year Students

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are teaming up to attract students to careers in science and technology. This fall, Wal-Mart is awarding four-year scholarships, each totaling $20,000, to two incoming first-year University students who are pursuing degrees in the science and technology fields.

The students - Michele Dechaine of Bangor, Maine (graduate of John Bapst Memorial High School), and Edmund Ahern III of West Roxbury, Mass. (graduate of Catholic Memorial High School) - join five other past recipients of Wal-Mart''s Competitive Edge Scholarships at the University. Among these past recipients is the first University student honored with a Wal-Mart Competitive Edge Scholarship, Michelle Ryan, who graduated with a bachelor''s degree in chemistry this past spring.

"The University was chosen by Wal-Mart as a partner because of its strong undergraduate program in math and science," says Burt Batty, director of financial aid services at the University. "In our four years working with Wal-Mart, we''ve expanded our participation so that we include two students a year in the scholarship program rather than just one. We''ve also broadened our focus so that we now include out-of-state as well as in-state students."

Wal-Mart''s Competitive Edge Scholarships are awarded to students with good academic standing and a record of community involvement. The Competitive Edge Scholarships, funded in part by contributions from participating Wal-Mart vendors, have grown into one of the country''s largest programs supplying scholarships in the area of science and technology.

"Sam Walton believed that America''s future begins in the classroom," says David D. Glass, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. "This program helps deserving students pursue the technology careers they''ve dreamed about. It is their enthusiasm for learning that is vital to America''s long-term growth and prosperity."

More than 240 incoming first-year students nationwide will receive more than $4 million from the scholarship fund during their four years of college. Since 1992, the scholarships have been awarded to more than 900 students at 145 educational institutions.

Since beginning the program in 1992, Wal-Mart has increased its funds for the scholarships from $1.6 million to $18 million. It is now one of the largest scholarship funds in the country not financed by trusts or endowments.