For the sixth consecutive year, ExxonMobil has provided support for high school students to learn about the natural and applied sciences as participants in the summer research program at Hope College.

A $7,000 grant to the college supported the participation of five high school students in the REACH (Research Experiences Across Cultures at Hope) program this past summer. The award was presented at Hope on Friday, Oct. 24, by David Handy, a territory manager with ExxonMobil, and Craig Hoppen and Abigail Albers, representing J&H Oil, a local ExxonMobil branded fuels marketing distributor.

Hope College has been offering research experiences for high school students for the past nine years through the REACH program.  Students spend about five weeks on campus engaged in challenging and relevant research projects with Hope's science, engineering and mathematics faculty. The goal is to provide meaningful learning experiences to the students as they consider their interest in pursuing careers in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields in college. The emphasis has been on recruiting students who come from backgrounds underrepresented in STEM careers. The REACH program has involved 100 students since 2006.

This past summer, five students who have been part of Hope’s TRiO Upward Bound program were chosen for the research experiences, and the funding from the ExxonMobil grant supported their five-week immersion experience. Four of the students are now seniors at West Ottawa High School, and one, who graduated from Holland High School in June, is a Hope freshman. The students were embedded in biology, engineering and physics labs and each of them worked closely with Hope College undergraduates and faculty members.

The REACH program reflects the college’s ongoing commitment to continuing and expanding its long-running emphasis on student-faculty collaborative research as a teaching tool. In addition to working on projects during the school year, regularly approximately 160 students conduct research full-time for several weeks each summer with faculty mentors in departments college-wide. Those participating in summer research include not only Hope students and the REACH program participants but also students from other colleges and universities supported through National Science Foundation “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” (NSF-REU) grants awarded to departments within the natural and applied sciences at Hope.