Science Bound is a unique partnership involving Indianapolis Public Schools, Purdue University and the business community. It was founded in 2002 as a way to give underrepresented minority studentsand those from low-income households access to science, math and technology career pathways they would not otherwise have.

The outlines of the program are straightforward: students apply to enter the program as early as sixth grade, though some join when they start high school. Once accepted, students need to maintain a 3.0 grade point average and participate in Science Bound activities and events while finishing high school. At that point, if they are accepted to Purdue in what Science Bound considers a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture or Math) major, then the students get four years of tuition, fees and books paid in full.

It’s an amazing avenue to college for many students. “The program has produced a total of 55 Purdue University graduates since 2007,” said Ben Palicki, IPS K-12 Science Coach. “There are about 250 students registered each year that take part in a wide variety of programming including academic support, college exposure and career exploration. Twelve IPS teachers serve as mentors to these students across nine IPS schools.”

Wesley Campbell, Director of Science Bound at Purdue University, said you can add more to that 55 Purdue graduates total. “Seven more Science Bound students are set to graduate in a week,” he said. Those that have graduated have found success in a variety of career paths: law school, pharmacy, engineering, business, and various PhD programs.

JB Zoller, IB Physics and IB Chemistry Teacher at Gambold Preparatory Magnet High School who works with Science Bound students, agreed the scholarship is significant, but there’s more to the program. “They benefit from their participation by learning important life skills and ways to further enhance their understanding of a variety of scientific and engineering principles.”
Derrick Williams, the Student Success Coordinator of Science Bound at Purdue University, said the growth and professional development aspect of the program is important to keep in mind. “We work with the students to groom them,” he said, “teach them how to use resources, how to network, how to build a resume and set career goals.”

The program reviews and helps students review and craft resumes, holds mock interviews and even gives them summer internship opportunities with businesses like Eli Lilly and Company and Rolls Royce or research opportunities at Purdue. “We help them work on the skills they need as professionals,” Williams said.

On April 24, Science Bound held their annual Science Bound Celebration Dinner to honor IPS juniors and seniors in the program as well as the upcoming Purdue graduates. All the high school seniors in the program were honored, but outstanding juniors Zoe G. from Gambold Prep and Jacqueline C. from Arsenal Technical High School and outstanding seniors Hakeem B. from Arsenal Tech and Anisah A. from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School were singled out for distinction.

Mel’Dre K., a former Arsenal Tech student now finishing an Industrial Technology major, was being honored among the Purdue graduates that same evening. His advice to future students, “Learn to take responsibility. Learn to be accountable for yourself and learn self-discipline.”

With a program like Science Bound providing stellar incentives and guidance, more IPS students like Mel’Dre will learn these lessons and gain access to the experience, professional skills and opportunity they need to follow their own career dreams!