Dayton Business Journal: Wright State to give full-ride scholarships to STEM Challenge winners


Wright State President Sue Edwards received the 2024 Big Hoopla Cinderella award Monday, March 18. She surprised the business community with news that 12 student winners from the Big Hoopla STEM Challenge will receive full-ride scholarships to Wright State University. (PHOTO BY HANNAH POTURALSKI/DBJ)

One of the Dayton region’s largest colleges has made a surprise announcement that could change the lives of a dozen youth in the region. 

Wright State University this week awarded 12 full-ride scholarships to winners of the Big Hoopla STEM Challenge. 

The STEM Challenge brings together 1,000 students from grades K-8 for hands-on science, technology, engineering and math demonstrations from regional and national employers. Participating companies this year included Beta Technologies, NASA Glenn Research Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Hatch Architects and iCode Centerville, among over a dozen more. 

Susan Edwards, president of Wright State, first shared the scholarship news with the Dayton business community Monday evening during a Big Hoopla reception and awards event. 

“I sometimes think that we educate the excitement of STEM out of our children,” Edwards said. 

The student winners will be recognized and their awards announced during the First Four games Tuesday at University of Dayton Arena. Wright State this year is a major sponsor of the Big Hoopla STEM Challenge, a partnership that will continue for multiple years. 

“Because we want to give each and every child in our community that hope that they, too, can go to college just like the rest of us,” Edwards said. “I’m a first-generation student, I’m the first one in my family to finish high school. And I want them to be the next scientist that is creating new things with AFRL, creating new medical advances with Dayton Children’s and Premier Health. We are looking forward to investing in their future.”

At the Hoopla reception Monday night, Edwards also received the 2024 Big Hoopla Cinderella Award.

“It goes to an organization that sort of came in sweeping; we’ve been partners with them on many levels,” said Sarah Spees, volunteer director of The Big Hoopla.

Wright State has a strong relationship and partnership with its neighbor, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest single-site employer in Ohio.

“I feel like I have left my shoes somewhere as in Cinderella,” Edwards said. “I’ve been in this community for six years and it never ceases to amaze me just how our community comes together.”

Wright State University has over 11,000 students and 1,500 employees, according to DBJ research.

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