Was it kismet that, back in 2018, Barbara Hill and Ancelmo Lopes happened to be driving down York Road, past the soon-to-be-home of TU’s College of Science & Mathematics, at the same time they were having a conversation about where to take their ideas for helping women interested in STEM? Perhaps. But there is no doubt it was TU’s good fortune, and ultimately our students’, whose lives will be forever impacted by the generosity of Barbara and Ancelmo.
“We had no idea TU had a science college,” says Barbara. “Then we talked with a friend, who is an alum and a member of TU’s Board. We asked her if she thought TU would be interested in developing the program we envisioned.” Their friend offered to introduce the couple to President Schatzel. “Very soon after that, we had our first meeting at TU and explained our vision of forming a ‘community’ for young women interested in STEM,” recalls Barbara. Their goal: to give each student a network, an “old girls club,” where they would find enthusiasm and support for their interest in STEM; a place where groups of young women come together, both with each other and with mentors, to build the support system they need to stay in STEM for life. And the Hill-Lopes Scholars Program was born.
“We wanted to find a university that would share our passion and put energy into achieving our mutual goals.”
In addition to their original $484,000 gift to establish the Hill-Lopes Scholars Program, Barbara and Ancelmo recently committed an additional $736,500 to ensure the Program continues to positively impact young women in STEM. The Program goals remain unchanged: to create an environment that nurtures women’s interest in STEM, encourages them to explore their career options, helps them make friends for mutual moral support, and sends them out into the world to make it a better place. The original goal was to enroll 30 students in the Program. This year, the Program is expanding to 45 students and will start accepting more students each year for the next three years thanks to the continued support of Barbara and Ancelmo.
Why women? Why STEM?
“We both feel that humankind has pushed the world in a dangerous direction, heating it up, destroying its rivers and other waterways, and endangering plants and wildlife,” says Barbara. “These and other problems must be solved by science.”
“Not enough people want to make their careers in STEM areas, and in particular, not enough women are encouraged to pursue their futures in STEM,” Ancelmo added.
“Women go to science classes, they look around and often see very few other young women in the classroom. We want to do everything we can to change that.”
Reflecting on their time spent with the first cohort of Hill-Lopes Scholars which graduated in May ‘22, they characterize them as a wonderful group of talented and enthusiastic young women. “We are really proud of their commitment to the fields they have chosen in STEM.”
Hear and see more from our Alpha cohort of Hill-Lopes Scholars.