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PROGRAM SERVES UNDERREPRESENTED STUDENT POPULATIONS.

Campaign gifts that benefit programs allow passionate faculty like Amy Stix to prepare students for academic and lifetime success.

Montana State University’s EMPower program promotes the success of under-represented minorities and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). EMPower director Amy Stix supports an inclusive environment where students from diverse backgrounds can find a home away from home.

Many EMPower students arrive at MSU from rural areas of Montana. Adjusting to life in a new community can be a challenge, especially when your family and support structure are miles away. EMPower works to ease that transition by providing students with support that includes scholarships, tutoring and guidance. A home base in Roberts Hall with quiet study areas, computers and drop-in tutoring offers students a space to thrive on campus.

“We hear all the time that it can be a really scary thing that first year in a big science or engineering class, to be the only one there that’s American Indian,” Stix said. “EMPower is a welcoming community for students of all different backgrounds to get together to feel safe and to have a shared experience—both the good and the bad.”

EMPower has helped numerous underrepresented students achieve a quality education, including more than 50 in 2018 alone. Many graduates have gone on to successful careers in the fields of STEM in their home communities.

“A scholarship that comes through philanthropic dollars can make all the difference between a student having to take a 20- or 40-hour job while they’re trying to study,” Stix said. “Scholarship support is essential in allowing our EMPower students to focus on their passion at MSU.”

Stix sees the positive impacts the program has on student success every day. She hopes to expand the EMPower program to help more students achieve their dream of a college education, especially as Montana State University’s student population continues to grow.