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Raimondo Administration Announces Third Round of Wavemaker Fellowship to Attract and Retain STEM Talent

240 Professionals Selected, Average Award of More Than $3,600

PROVIDENCE September 6, 2018 - Governor Gina M. Raimondo and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation today announced that the recipients of the third round of Wavemaker Fellowship awards have been selected. Following a competitive review process, a total of 240 college graduates who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and Design fields in Rhode Island will receive the award. The Fellowship is a tax credit designed to defray the cost of student loans for a minimum of two years.

"We've created thousands of jobs in the past four years, and I want Rhode Islanders to get those jobs," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "We're fortunate to have so many institutions of higher learning in our state, but too often, graduates are faced with a tough choice between working here or taking offers elsewhere. The Wavemaker Fellowship can make that decision a little easier while enhancing Rhode Island's workforce and retaining our best and brightest."

Nearly 400 professionals submitted applications before the deadline earlier this year. The average annual award for the group of Wavemaker Fellows is more than $3,600 per year. Applicants were evaluated on a variety of criteria, primarily by their pursuit of careers in key advanced industries as well as the impact of the award on the applicants' decisions to stay and work in Rhode Island.

"The Wavemaker Fellowship program is a potent tool to help our state keep more than our fair share of recent STEM and design graduates here in Rhode Island," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Wavemaker Fellows are working in companies and sectors that are key to our state's economy. We are glad that they have chosen to stay in Rhode Island and we congratulate them on their award." The Wavemaker Fellowship opened its first round of applications in May 2016 to provide a financial incentive for RI graduates looking to stay in-state for a job or to start a business. The first cohort was made up of 208 Wavemaker Fellows. Last year, the program accepted 224 Fellows. Any candidate with higher education loan debt who is employed in a STEM or commercially relevant design field in the state was encouraged to apply. Approximately 62 percent of Fellows graduated from an RI institution, and 88 percent of Fellows are Rhode Island residents choosing to work in the state. Awards of varying amounts were granted to candidates who have successfully completed a graduate, bachelors or associates degree and who have found work or started their own business in Rhode Island. As part of the Fellowship, awardees will have the opportunity to participate in various personal and professional development activities that enable them to get to know one another and that build even stronger STEM and Design communities throughout the State. What Wavemaker Fellows Are Saying Marcela Burke, Financial Analyst, MIKEL, Inc.: "Financially, the Wavemaker Fellowship is going to help me to pay down my student loan quicker, which will allow me to invest that money towards my retirement here in Rhode Island. I'm also excited about the other opportunities such as social networking, workshops, and development opportunities and I look forward to learning from and meeting others in this group of talented individuals. The award is just another example of Rhode Island's interest in the advancement of its citizens and the future economic growth of the state."

Kelsey Smith, Associate, Rotational Program, Amgen: "For me, this award is a really exciting opportunity to develop my professional network and offset graduate school. As a selected Wavemaker Fellow, I am honored that my potential to positively contribute to Rhode Island's success is recognized and I can't wait to see how I'll deliver on that throughout my career. Coming to college and starting my career in Rhode Island has been an incredible experience so far, where I've been supported by phenomenal mentors and colleagues in the Rhode Island community. This program is just another example of how Rhode Island has invested in my personal success and I can't wait to continue to give back to the community that has given me so much. I'm excited to be able to broaden my network and connect with highly motivated and driven individuals in STEM fields in Rhode Island. Also, I've always known I wanted to pursue graduate school, but taking on more debt as a twenty-something can be extremely daunting. This program is providing me with the financial assistance to chase my goals and propel my career." ###

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