New scholarship to encourage enrollment in ACES

New scholarship to encourage enrollment in ACES

Jun 2
Nancy Moriarity, ACES Alumna and RAP 25th Anniversary Planning Committee Member

In 2014, the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its Research Apprentice Program (RAP). Founded in 1988, RAP is a campus-based summer program uniquely designed to expose high school students from ethnic minority and low socioeconomic backgrounds to educational and professional opportunities in food, human, and environmental sciences. Dr. Jesse C. Thompson was instrumental in establishing the program and has been leading it since. RAP I, aimed at students in their first two years of high school, is a four-week team experience, with projects developed through close partnership of ACES with the sponsoring companies.  RAP II provides older high school students an eight-week experience performing a science-focused research project under the guidance of ACES faculty and graduate students.

RAP I and II encourage development of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)-related skills and interests while showcasing related academic and career opportunities enabled through the College of ACES. The program successfully targets underrepresented students and attracts them to ACES-related STEM disciplines. RAP’s success is demonstrated through years of data. Between 1988 and 2011, 1,066 students participated in RAP I and II. Of these, 61 percent were African Americans and 28 percent Latinos. Of RAP II seniors, 548 of 566 enrolled in a four-year college following graduation; 464 students selected a math, science, or engineering-related field as their college major. After high school, 30 percent (319) of RAP I and 52 percent of RAP II participants enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with 82 percent of these selecting majors in ACES.

One reason often cited by previous RAP participants who didn’t select the University of Illinois is they were offered more substantial scholarship opportunities elsewhere. The basis for the new Jesse C. Thompson Scholarship fund is to provide more scholarship monies for RAP graduates wanting to enroll in ACES programs. Since Dr. Thompson contributed to the creation of the RAP program in 1988, he has worked his entire career to build it and other diversity programs in ACES to what they are today. This scholarship program honors his success and the success of all RAP students by providing funding for today’s and tomorrow’s RAP graduates to attend and succeed in ACES programs and STEM-based careers.

Individuals and organizations desiring to contribute to the new fund, please visit; indicate as you proceed that you wish to support the JCT Scholarship Fund.