Thursday, February 4, 2021

By: Claire Quigle

The Noyce Scholarship in Mathematics led University of Iowa College of Education student Lincoln Aunan to realize his passion for working with disadvantaged students.

Aunan is one of two UI students currently receiving the Noyce Scholarship in Mathematics, which provides him $13,000 in financial support each academic year.

“The scholarship helped to provide significant financial assistance to continue my education, and it also provided me with resources that I will utilize throughout my teaching career,” Aunan says.

Aunan says Noyce scholars are given a mentor with whom they are encouraged to form a relationship. Mentors offer support and are able to answer questions as they arise. There are also opportunities to collaborate with other Noyce scholars through virtual meetings. Aunan was paired with James Kirpes, a math teacher at West High School in Iowa City, Iowa.

Aunan is from Maquoketa, Iowa, and is a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in teaching. Upon graduation, Aunan plans to find a teaching job for a high-needs school district, which is a requirement of the Noyce Scholarship.

Aunan has always enjoyed working with youth, but it wasn’t until high school that his math teacher inspired him to become an educator as well. Aunan said his teacher solidified his love for mathematics and also made him realize he wanted to share that passion with others.

“Despite her awareness of many students' negative feelings toward mathematics, she showed up with a smile and did everything she could to help her students find joy in her classroom,” Aunan says. “This is something that I would like to do for my students.”

Aunan heard about the Noyce Scholarship through his advisor, Danny Hong. Aunan says Hong, associate professor of math education, guided him through the application process, helping to make it an easy and rewarding experience.

The application included a personal statement section, where Aunan explained why teaching is something that he wanted to do in the future. It was this section of the application where he was able to explain why he is passionate about teaching.

The Noyce Scholarship is awarded to exceptional science, technology, and engineering students who plan on teaching mathematics in a high-needs school district after graduation. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Noyce Program at the University of Iowa provides $13,000 per academic year in scholarship support to pursue a degree in mathematics education. This support is renewable for up to 2 years if the scholar becomes enrolled in and maintains good academic standing at the UI. The scholarship has a rolling admission and do not have an application deadline for the 2021-2022 school year. 

In return for Noyce Scholarship support, scholarship recipients agree to teach in a high-needs school district for two years after graduation per each year of scholarship support received.

Aunan was elated to learn he had been selected as a recipient of the scholarship.

“I would strongly encourage others to apply for this scholarship,” Aunan says. “I think it is vitally important because it will help to find passionate teachers to fulfill their duties in a district that is in need of high-quality educators.”

Because of the Noyce Scholarship, Aunan discovered his passion for teaching in a high-needs district.

“Without this scholarship, the financial burden would have been more significant, but I also would have never sought out an opportunity to seek employment in a high-needs school district,” Aunan says. “Throughout my short time of student teaching, I have already found a passion for working with students who have faced many obstacles in their lives.”