Latinas held 10 percent of science and engineering jobs in 2019, as reported by the National Science Foundation, an increase of 8 percent from 2015. Despite the growth, it remains a financial challenge for many Latinas to enter science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields due to the required education and one Latina is helping to change that. Argentinian entrepreneur María Trochimezuk, 47, has created a platform to help students in STEM find scholarships and internships. IOScholarships launched in March 2021 as a free tool designed to give students—particularly Latinx students and students of color—a place to access and organize resources that will help them apply for valuable scholarship money that often goes unused.
Trochimezuk hopes that IOScholarships will help STEM students in high school and college find a path toward graduating debt-free. “I always had a vision that I wanted to create a platform that would be a community,” she told NBC News. “It’s a first of its kind because we are focusing on underrepresented and underserved students, African American, Latinos, Asian American, Native American and also we have scholarships for DACA students.”
Trochimezuk launched the platform using her own savings before securing additional funding through Google’s Ureeka PowerUp grant program for Latinx businesses and it is also backed by the National Scholarships Provider Association (NSPA). Just a year later, she says it has helped almost 11,000 students find scholarships from various corporations and foundations.
That number is quite significant considering the various barriers Latinx students interested in STEM fields face. While Latinx people make up 17 percent of the workforce in the U.S., we represent just eight percent of STEM workers, largely due to lack of information and resources for students interested in related careers.
“Unfortunately, Latinos represent only eight percent of the STEM workforce and at IOScholarships we want to level the playing field so all students have the same opportunity to succeed in the workforce,” Trochimezuk told HipLatina in a statement. “We are here to change that!,” she said.
As an immigrant who herself worked on public education campaigns supporting the Latinx community for various businesses and organizations including Google, Trochimezuk saw first-hand how much money in scholarship funds was not being used. Students weren’t applying for the scholarships, which she concluded was because the students didn’t know the scholarships existed and her platform is now bridging that gap.
The NSPA estimates that $100 million in scholarship money goes unawarded each year, despite the fact that scholarship disbursements have increased significantly in the past decade, confirming Trochimezuk’s theory.
“We opened opportunities for students with scholarships that now are going to Stanford or MIT—these are brilliant, diverse students, they’re Latino, Black students. And it’s very important that companies pay attention to this workforce because these are the innovators of the future,” Trochimezuk told NBC.
Now with IOScholarhips’ scholarship-matching algorithm, STEM students have access to applications for thousands of scholarships from companies like Microsoft and Target right at their fingertips, as well as a way to organize scholarships they’re interested all in one place and a tool to find and narrow down STEM career paths. On their website, they share a motto that revises the meaning of STEM to embrace BIPOC: “I am STEM”. Smart, Talented, Educated Minority student.“
Scholarship applications are available between March and June.