Alexander Soto wants to be a doctor someday. It’s what led him to major in biochemistry at California State University, San Bernardino.

But as he started to take his required courses, what initially were prerequisites for his chosen career turned into a genuine interest in the larger sciences field.

“Once I allowed myself to actually engage and dedicate myself in the science courses, I found a great amount of success,” he said.

Soto is one of 28 Cal State San Bernardino students who received a scholarship from Edison International last year to help further their studies in the STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) fields.

A recent Edison grant of $80,000 to the university will help support even more students in the ever-growing STEM fields. In addition to scholarships for low-income students pursuing a STEM degree, the grant will help further conservation education and support an annual summit to encourage Latino students to pursue a higher education.

Edison International “understands the importance of having an increased number of students graduate in majors from science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and ultimately enter the workforce in STEM-related fields,” said Cal State San Bernardino President Tomas D. Morales.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that overall employment in the STEM fields will grow about 13 percent between 2012 and 2022, a rate faster than the 11 percent growth rate projected for all occupations over the decade. The data also shows that workers in the STEM fields earned more than double the $35,080 median wage for all workers in 2013.

In addition to the STEM scholarships, the Edison grant will help support a habitat preserve program to study Coastal sage scrub at a trail near the university’s observatory. The program will help students in grades 5-12 learn about habitat conservation and restoration.

The university’s LEAD (Latino Education and Advocacy Days) program also received $5,000 of the recent Edison International grant. The donation will help support an annual summit that helps educate the Latino community on the importance of pursuing a higher education with an emphasis on STEM.

“As Latinos have become the No. 1 minority in the U.S., our educational attainment is not the same as our demographic shift,” said Cal State San Bernardino professor Enrique Murillo. “LEAD brings awareness to the Latino educational crisis.”

For students like Soto, pursuing a degree in a STEM-related field opens up a new world of possibilities as they move onto their careers.

“A STEM degree allows you to analyze things in life on a whole different level,” he said. “A STEM degree allows one to really begin to appreciate life and the complexity of things in the world.” 

Since 2000, Edison International has donated $334,050 to Cal State San Bernardino. The company has also donated $59,920 to the university’s Palm Desert campus since 2005.

“Since 2009, Edison International has given almost $45 million to education programs that help students excel in STEM,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at SCE. “Our philosophy of giving is that all people should have opportunities to do well. Together, Edison International and Cal State San Bernardino hope to promote the inclusion of underrepresented students in the STEM fields.”