Area High School Seniors Encouraged to Apply for AWS STEM Scholarships

Boardman native and current Oregon State University student America Pacheco is a past recipient of the AWS InCommunities Scholarship Program. Area high school students are encouraged to apply for one of the program's grants. (Contributed photo)

Amazon Web Services recently announced the opening of the 2022 applications for the AWS InCommunities Scholarship Program, which offers grants to high school seniors in designated districts in Oregon who plan to pursue a STEM-related subject at a higher education institution.

A total of $100,000 in scholarships is open to students enrolling in courses such as electrical and electronic engineering, computer science, artificial intelligence, biochemistry, software engineering, physics, and much more.

Local high school seniors in Umatilla County, Morrow County, and members of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation/Nixyaawii School qualify and are encouraged to apply for the available scholarships through the deadline of March 29.

The AWS InCommunities Program exists to make a positive impact through community based programs, specifically in the regions where AWS builds and operates its global infrastructure. More information about the AWS InCommunities Scholarship Program and the 2022 application process can be found here.

Boardman native America Pacheco is a past grant recipient. She is currently studying computer science at Oregon State University.

Her course of study has a particular emphasis on cybersecurity, a topic Pacheco only discovered her passion for recently.

“Growing up, I didn’t see many women in tech careers,” she said. “I never thought of myself doing anything STEM-related until I got to high school.”

Everything changed when Pacheco attended a series of introductory computer science classes, which captured her imagination

“I was so intrigued. Each week was a different project. It challenged me, but it also gave me opportunities to be creative, which I really enjoyed.”

While the classes sparked Pacheco’s interest in cybersecurity, she developed a passion for it during the pandemic.

“I was at home constantly, and I was bored,” she said. “During that time, I decided to take a couple of free online computer science courses offered by Amazon. At first, it was for a bit of fun, but I got to a point where I discovered I really liked it and wanted to continue growing these skills.”

As she began to plan for university, Pacheco reviewed her finances and realized she would probably need to work part time to finance her degree.

“I thought college was doable if I worked part time and during summer breaks, but this isn’t ideal when you want to focus on your studies. When I received my Amazon scholarship, I was so excited. It’s helped me so much. I can worry a little less about finances and concentrate more on my studies and enjoying my college experience.”

Although she has moved across state for college, Pacheco remains focused on her local community.

“The population of Boardman is about 5,000,” she said. “Amazon and AWS have played a big part in its growth since building a data center here, in addition to many other data centers across Oregon. That growth is something I always wanted to be part of. Although I’m in a completely different part of Oregon right now, I want to return home and give back to my town in some way in the future.”