Kenan Trust contributes $1.8 million to science education at UF Scripps

Sergine Brutus, Ph.D. started her science education as a Kenan Fellow at the UF Scripps Biomedical Research campus in Jupiter, Florida.
Sergine Brutus, Ph.D. started her science education as a Kenan Fellow at the UF Scripps Biomedical Research campus in Jupiter, Florida.

JUPITER, FL—Continuing a high-impact partnership that dates back to 2005, UF Scripps Biomedical Research in Jupiter, Florida has received a major philanthropic gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to support science education training opportunities for local elementary, middle and high school students.

Since its inception soon after the institute opened its Florida campus, the Scripps Research Education Outreach and Community Engagement program offered workshops, tours, classroom lessons and summer internships to students in Palm Beach County and beyond, to enlighten area students and teachers about biomedical research and other topics in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). More than 185 students from Palm Beach County have participated in internships at the UF Scripps campus. Interns typically spend their summer as a “Kenan Fellow.” Remarkably, more than 97% of these students go on to attend some the best colleges and universities in the country, with more than 80% majoring in a STEM field.

Sergine Brutus, PhD, is a former Kenan Fellow from Palm Beach County who went on to earn her doctorate in biological sciences from Harvard University. A Palm Beach Gardens High School graduate, she credits her iKenan fellowship with exposing her to the scientific world.

“By getting early research experience, I gained an edge in my academic learning. And because I could demonstrate actual in-lab skills, I was able to get into other internships and advanced programs. I truly believe the Kenan Fellows program played a large role in setting me on this positive trajectory” she said.

“Thanks to our sixteen-year partnership with the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, we have been able to provide students a chance to preview extraordinary careers in biomedical research,” said recently retired Executive Vice President Douglas Bingham. “It’s apparent these opportunities are inspiring and challenging students to consider knowledge-economy careers they might have never pursued, thus creating an outsized positive impact on our community.”

A gift designed to inspire

The foundation is investing in the institute’s educational programs with a commitment of $1.8 million. They hope this contribution will inspire other science education supporters in the community to consider UF Scripps Biomedical Research as part of their contribution to academics.

The Kenan Charitable Trust says it has endorsed these programs, as part of its mission to support educational opportunity to the benefit of humanity. The Trust has seen how many young people touched by the programming go on to pursue science and technology careers, with many UF Scripps Kenan Fellows going on to research cancer treatments, probe diseases like Alzheimer’s, thrive in careers in public health and medicine and more.

The Trust was formed as a bequest from chemist and engineer William Rand Kenan, Jr., intended for the “substantial benefit to mankind.”

“I have always believed firmly that a good education is the most cherished gift an individual can receive,” Mr. Kenan wrote in his will.

The Trust says its intent is to help organizations build runways in order to develop new programs, with measurable outcomes, in order to inspire other funders. It has found the Scripps Research Education Outreach and Community Engagement program a worthy investment in the futures of area youth, benefitting society as a whole.

A life-changing science experience

Kenan Fellows train in lab techniques and safety, and then conduct research under the mentorship of institute scientists and graduate students.

 The productivity of these young scholars has been truly remarkable, UF Scripps faculty say. Under the guidance of their mentors, the Kenan Fellows have collectively earned co-authorship on seven published manuscripts, on topics ranging from DNA damage to the design of microplates. In addition to performing research in the laboratory, fellows participate in classes designed to boost their development as scientists. The program is geared toward students preparing to enter junior or senior year at a high school in Palm Beach and Martin counties. It involves a rigorous selection process, as it requires rapid learning in a professional research environment. The summer program also reflects UF Scripps’ commitment to encouraging students who have been historically underrepresented in the sciences to consider STEM careers.