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African American Scholar Program

From 2021-2023, the program provided financial support and community engagement to talented African American students pursuing marine science fields of study related to the work of the Aquarium.

A black mask-wearing student with glasses gazes upward in the Aquarium's Tropical Tunnel.

Credit: Andrew Reitsma / Aquarium of the Pacific


Three cohorts, and 31 students were named to the African American Scholar Program. Through the award and engagement experience, the Aquarium looked to lower barriers by providing both financial support for academic endeavors, and community support through networking opportunities.

“Being a part of the program helped me grow as a scientist and science communicator. The scholarship was pivotal in my journey as a marine scientist because it helped me get an internship where I was at the helm of my own project for the first time. Collaborating with the Aquarium allowed me to build creative avenues to bring science to general audiences. Best of all, I’ve joined a network of fantastic scientists who actively support and inspire me,” Jacqueline Rajerison, 2022 African American Scholar.

As part of the program, scholars participated in various Aquarium programs, including writing for the member magazine, serving as judges in our high school film festival, creating films for our early childhood education partners, and serving as “Ask a Scientist” at Aquarium events and through social media. The Aquarium looks forward to continued connection to alumni.

The scholars also attended multiple symposiums to strengthen their connection to the Aquarium and to each other. Symposium activities have included opportunities to meet with Aquarium staff members, hear from a panel of STEM professionals, and connect with high school students from the Long Beach Unified School District. They are available to view on our YouTube channel.

In December 2023, the Aquarium launched the CELP Scholar Program to continue the work of bringing diverse minds to solving the issues facing our planet and its inhabitants.

This program was made possible thanks to funding from individuals and corporate supporters. Major program supporters for 2022 include The Ahmanson Foundation, Lori Prince and Robert Hum, Poms & Associates, Kathie Eckert and Schulzman-Neri Foundation.

For three years in a row, an anonymous donor pledged a matching gift of $10,000 to encourage others to support this program.

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