Riya Bhakkad Memorial Scholarship Fund

In our hearts, Riya continues to shine brightly as the cherished sunflower of our family, her essence forever intertwined with memories of her compassion, kindness, and passion for STEM. It is with deep love and reverence that we embark on this journey to honor her memory, creating this internship program as a heartfelt tribute to Riya’s lasting impact. Driven by her love for STEM, we pledge to uphold her legacy by nurturing a culture of inclusivity and empowerment. With every opportunity extended and every barrier broken, we honor Riya’s spirit of generosity and commitment to uplifting others. 

BFF Riya Bhakkad Memorial Scholarship Fund

Science Systems and Applications, Inc. (SSAI) was created and established by Om and Saraswati in 1977. A company whose foundation was, from the very beginning, not only built on family-centered values, but has maintained an enduring diverse culture, which allows SSAI to attract and retain highly qualified candidates who are experts in the fields of science, engineering, information technology, and research. In 2012, Om and Saraswati founded the Bahethi Family Foundation (BFF) to empower people in science and technology. The foundations’ purpose is continuing to give back to communities to create and enable opportunities for others as it was created and provided for Om and Saraswati Bahethi.

In an exemplary union of purpose and passion, SSAI and BFF are partnering to provide equitable opportunities to the STEM community. This collaboration isn’t just about funding scholarships, it’s a launchpad for dreams. SSAI, in partnership with HBCU and MSI colleges and universities, has crafted a specialized program that’s a beacon of hope and opportunity. This immersive experience is designed for ambitious students eager to expand their horizons. Selected candidates will embark on a transformative journey, enhancing their knowledge and skill sets through real-world training with leading experts from prestigious organizations like NASA, NOAA, USDA, USAID, EPA, and NIH. This is not just education, it’s a fusion of academic pursuits and practical hands-on experience, tightly aligned with the students’ degree goals and personal interests.

Complementing this is the BFF Riya Bhakkad Memorial Scholarship Program, a beacon of inclusivity and diversity in professional development. This initiative is a commitment to shattering barriers and implicit unconscious bias in recruitment, focused on empowering underrepresented groups. It’s a step towards creating a diverse workforce enriched with highly qualified candidates from various backgrounds. This program does not only aim to increase visibility for leaders in diversity, but it also aims to enhance engagement and attracting top talent from underrepresented and disabled communities. Together, SSAI and BFF are not only shaping futures, but they are also crafting a more inclusive and diverse professional world.

Riya Bhakkad Memorial Scholarship Program

Selected recipients will receive a scholarship award of up to $10,000 (determined by annual tuition costs at each institution and program funding) to participate in a 12-week program working with an advisor from SSAI in a remote environment for the duration of the program.

In addition to technical training within STEM related fields, this program will also offer and support professional development training fostering:

• Real world experience in a STEM related field
• Professional development-based learning/degree objectives
• Communication skills
• Presentation skills
• Networking and engagement with high-level stakeholders
• Project management and collaboration skills
• Growth mindset

The BFF Riya Bhakkad Memorial Fund, in partnership with SSAI, offers students the opportunity to collaborate with multiple federal organizations, working with experts who specialize in the fields of science, engineering and technology, while building their knowledge and skill-set capacity through real-world professional development training.  This program is open to currently enrolled college students at all degree levels who have a passion for increasing their professional skill set, knowledge, and experience in STEM related fields.

Program Eligibility

Must be:

• 18 years or older
• A currently enrolled student

• In good academic standing with their institution (there is no GPA requirement)
• Majoring in a field of study that falls under STEM guidelines
• Committed to and have the availability to participate in the program for 12-weeks

Application Calendar

2024 Season Program Dates Application Window Application Review Selections Notifications
Summer  June 3 – August 23  March 18 – April 12  April 15 – May 3  May 6 – May 31 

Application Requirements

Application documents must be submitted in one combined PDF or Word document, with your name, email and referred school or organization to [email protected] by 11:59pm EST on April 12th, 2024.

All applicants must submit the following:

1. Answers to the essay questions listed below, answered concisely on separate pages, adhering to a    MAXIMUM 400-word answer per question:

  • Provide 3 STEM areas of interest
  • What are your personal goals in the next 5 years? How would this program help to support those goals?
  • This program provides an opportunity for students to submit projects or research ideas they prefer to focus on while participating in an internship with an advisor. If applicable, please provide those ideas listed in detail.
  • In your opinion, how do STEM careers make a societal difference in communities?
  • How would this scholarship award help support your financial academic needs?

2. One academic or professional recommendation letter

3. Your most recent unofficial transcripts

4. Current resume

If you have additional questions regarding the application process, please send an email to [email protected]

Please do not wait until the last minute to submit your application! Applications submitted after the deadline WILL NOT be accepted or considered.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. When is my application due?
a. Please refer to the Application Calendar located on this Page.

2. Will scholarship recipients be required to participate in the program on-site in Maryland?
a. Selected candidates will work remotely for the duration of the 12-week program and will not be required to work on-site.

3. What can I expect to gain from participating in this program?
a. Participants can expect to gain a unique opportunity to expand their professional skill set and experience, while working closely with a mentor who is an expert within a similar STEM related field.

4. What does the selection committee look for in their scholarship recipients?
a. Applicants should have a passion for STEM and be able to speak to how STEM related fields impact our society and surrounding communities. Applicants should also be prepared to speak to how this program will impact their own professional development and capacity building goals.

5. What are the application requirements?
a. Please refer to the Application Requirement located on this page.

6. Is there a GPA requirement?
a. There are no GPA requirements, however students do need to be in good academic standing with their institution.

7. Does the program accept international students?
a. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept applicants who are not U.S Citizens at this time.

8. Will I be paid for participating in this program?
a. Selected recipients will be awarded a scholarship up to $10,000 paid directly to their institution. Scholarship amounts are determined by the tuition of each institution, and program funding.

9. Does this program award school credit?
a. School credit will be determined and awarded through the recipient’s institution. Requirements for school credit should be communicated to program leadership prior to the start of the program and worked into the agreement.

10. Do I need to be a currently enrolled student?
a. All recipients need to be currently enrolled students at an accredited institution.

11. Who will I be working with during the program?
a. Students will work closely with their selected advisors during the program and will have regular check-ins and performance evaluations with BFF program management and leadership.

12. When can I expect notification of selection?
a. Please refer to the Application Calendar located on this Page.