PHS senior chosen for NJ STEM Scholars

PHS senior chosen for selective Governor's STEM Scholars
Posted on 11/09/2023
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Piscataway High School senior Chelsea Panton has been selected to be a part of the 2023-24 class of the New Jersey Governor's STEM Scholars, counting her among some of the highest achieving students in the state.


The program introduces selected high school and college students to industry, academic, and government research in New Jersey, to establish a relationship between these students and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) sectors.


Panton is one of just 129 chosen out of nearly 1,000 candidates.


“It means a lot to be selected, honestly,” she said. “I was really happy and surprised when I found out I was selected. I had to reload the screen and check again. It’s a 14 percent acceptance rate! I was kind of shocked.”


To qualify for GSS, applicants must have at least a 3.5 GPA, be a high school sophomore through doctorial-level student at a New Jersey-based high school or university, and demonstrate a strong passion for STEM.

STEM scholars class photo


"The Governor’s STEM Scholarship’s works to address the paradox of STEM professionals leaving the state by maintaining a pipeline of talented individuals critical to maintaining excellence in innovation in New Jersey, and Chelsea Panton will certainly help them accomplish that goal," said PHS Principal Chris Baldassano. "On behalf of the staff at PHS, we are so proud of Chelsea for earning this incredible honor and cannot wait to hear about all of the amazing things she will undoubtedly accomplish."


Through conferences, field trips, and research, Panton and the other scholars are able to explore professional opportunities that can jumpstart their future STEM careers. Scholars attend four conferences to explore the STEM sectors of industry, academia, and government. For the 2023-2024 school year, these conferences will be held at Kean University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Rutgers University.


“Through the Governor’s STEM Scholars, New Jersey STEM students are able to learn from and engage with some of the state’s top STEM and R&D professionals, enhancing the students’ knowledge and understanding of career opportunities and introducing them to the STEM economy in New Jersey,” said Alise Roderer, director of the Governor’s STEM Scholars. “With this career knowledge and exposure, we are setting these high school and college students on a path to achieve excellence in jobs of the future.”

STEM scholar


Panton took part in her first Governor’s STEM Scholars conference on Oct. 21 at Rutgers.


“It was overwhelming meeting so many people, but they’re all so nice and friendly,” she said. “It was really diverse, too, which is really nice.”


Sixty-three percent of the class identify as female and 82 percent as students of color. When these scholars graduate in May 2024, they will join an alumni cohort of nearly 900 Scholars.


Panton is the second member of the PHS senior class to join the Governor’s STEM Scholars. Classmate Sareena Naganand took part in the program last year as a junior.


“I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making new contacts,” Panton said. “Maybe they can help in the future, especially the more experienced people we get to talk to. They were talking a lot about mentors and how that’s important when you’re going into college. So this is a good starting point.”


She plans to major in computer science in college. She has already applied to Northeastern University and is also considering Boston University. She called Princeton University her “reach” school.

STEm scholar


Through the Governor’s STEM Scholars program, Panton hopes to get more experience with research, since participants all take part in a large research project.


“I just want to broaden my horizons from just one academic classroom,” she said. “I want to get more outside experience.”


Panton is in discussions with members of her research group about what their topic will be. One area that she thought about suggesting is artificial intelligence, specifically AI art, its function, and the controversy surrounding it.


“This is just a really cool experience,” she said. “I didn’t expect this to be this big and get this kind of recognition. It’s all been really nice and I’m looking forward to everything that’s coming up in the future.”