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'Biotechnology has changed the world': Fort Valley State University receives grant to attract biotech majors

A grant from the federal Department of Education will improve resources in the school's Center for Biotechnology and also reach out to students in grades K-12.

FORT VALLEY, Ga. — A new grant could help bring in more biotechnology students to Fort Valley State University.

Dr. Sarwan Dhir is the director for the Center of Biotechnology. He says for the next three years, the program at Fort Valley State University will have a new grant.

"In the last 20 years, biotechnology has changed the whole world," says Dhir. 

"Right now, an example is that pharmaceutical and biotech companies are working together to solve the problem of COVID-19," he says.

Dhir says the grant is for almost $750,000, and it comes from the U.S. Department of Education. 

He says it will not only help with tuition costs for current Wildcats, but also work to raise interest in biotechnology for elementary, middle, and high school aged kids.

"The grant is basically going to recruit 15 students and keep them for three years, but on top of that,  we have another grant from the national science foundation that is actually going to provide them with the scholarship for $17,000 for four years," says Dhir.

There are currently 45 students in the program, and one of them is senior Tori McGuire, who says she's ready to start a Master's program next.

"I appreciate the money that he has set up and the money that he brings into here because I really haven't had this chance to have opportunities like this," she says about Dhir.

Freshman Dakota Walker says she came into the university as a marketing major, but soon changed majors after meeting Dhir. She says for students considering majoring in biotechnology, Fort Valley State is the only option.

"Plain and simple, because we're the best. There is no denying that. We're 100 percent the best, we have the resources, we have the faculty, we have a staff that wants to help you, we want to see you succeed," she says.

Dhir says to start, all programs and workshops will be virtual.

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