Council Offers Math, Science, Scholarships to Big-City Students

  • In 2020, Eliska Peacock was one of four graduating high school seniors to win a $5,000 CGCS-Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship sponsored by the Council of the Great City Schools, which she used to attend Stanford University.

    The scholarship program, named after former NASA astronaut Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr., the first African American to walk in space, was created in 2010 to encourage and assist promising students of diverse backgrounds who plan to pursue science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) studies after high school.

    The application for the 2024 CGCS-Bernard Harris Math and Science Scholarship program is now open. Four $5,000 scholarships are now available to students in the 78 big-city school districts represented by the Council.  Scholarships will be awarded to two African Americans and two Hispanic seniors in the Class of 2025 pursuing studies in STEM-related fields in college next fall.

    Applications must be submitted online by April 12, 2024. A committee appointed by the Council will review the applications, and recipients will be selected by Dr. Harris and notified in June.

    For Peacock, who graduated in 2020 from the School Without Walls High School in the District of Columbia Public Schools, the scholarship she received was very helpful.

    “Studying at Stanford University is an expensive privilege,” wrote Peacock in an email to the Urban Educator. “The generous CGCS-Bernard Harris Scholarship made it possible for me to better focus and concentrate more on my academic studies and enjoy other non-academic aspects of school life without the financial burden of having to worry or work to meet many of my college financial obligations.”

    Peacock was a computer science major but changed her major to Symbolic Systems, which integrates knowledge from diverse fields of study including: computer science, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, and statistics.

    “I feel better personally aligned with Symbolic Systems since it's an interdisciplinary program that includes human-interactions with computers,” she wrote. “I also feel like a Symbolic Systems major gives me better career options than a computer science major alone, given the many layoffs in the computer field due to the growth of artificial intelligence. Symbolic Systems is very much related to AI, and I will be more prepared for where the world is headed.”

    For the past three years Peacock has been a software development engineer intern at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle in the summer, where she gained invaluable professional relationships, professional work experience, and technical, communication, presentation, networking, and problem-solving skills.

    “These internships forced me to get out of my comfort zone, become more assertive, and ask questions of others in order to be successful on work projects,” wrote Peacock. “I mainly learned that one should look for work that he or she enjoys doing for a long-term career.”

    This summer, Peacock will participate in a National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning Program, sponsored by Apple at the University of Southern California. The summer intensive program is designed to give participants cutting-edge skills, problem-solving abilities with real AI solutions, and impactful exposure to industry experts.

    “We are very proud of Eliska, and she is a prime example of why this scholarship was created--to help urban school students become the leaders and innovators of tomorrow,” said Council Executive Director Ray Hart.