Hillary Clinton Offers 'World Class' Education in the U.S. to Women from Muslim Countries

By Susan Jones | January 10, 2012 | 12:22 PM EST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a press conference in Busan, South Korea Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Saul Loeb, Pool)

(CNSNews.com) - The federal government is partnering with dozens of U.S. colleges to provide women from Muslim counties with a "world-class" education in science, technology, engineering and math.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the NeXXt Scholars partnership last month, and her remarks were posted on the State Department Web site Monday.

"Today's next Madame Curie could be sitting in a high school classroom in Cairo, Jakarta, or Mogadishu, yearning for opportunities to explore her potential. The United States is determined to help give her that chance."

Clinton said the scholarship program will "create new opportunities for women from predominantly Muslim nations to pursue world-class undergraduate educations in science, technology, engineering, and math."

Clinton made the announcement in a video address at the New York Academy of Sciences on Dec. 10, Nobel Prize Day. She noted that Marie Curie was the first scientist to be awarded two Nobel Prizes.

"Advancing opportunities for women around the globe is an issue that is important to me and a core element of my agenda as Secretary of State. By providing women with better access to educational opportunities, the NeXXt Scholars program will help arm a new generation of women to be change agents in their communities and prepare them to become the next Madame Curies."

The State Department said it is partnering with nearly 40 women's colleges to provide a "high-quality" education in science, technology, engineering and math. In addition, the scholarship program will provide mentorship, networking, support, and enrichment activities for the foreign students -- and for American students who will be nominated to serve as a "STEM-sister." (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.)

The New York Academy of Sciences will support the program by providing the foreigners with five-year Academy memberships which includes access to internship and research opportunities.

Although the scholarship program is aimed at young women in predominantly Muslim countries, students from any religious group or economic status are eligible for the program, the State Department said.

Students must apply directly to participating U.S. women’s colleges, be accepted by the college, and major in a science-math-technology field.

"This new partnership initiative responds to the Secretary’s core mission of empowering women around the world, by educating them to be the leaders of tomorrow," the State Department said.

Secretary Clinton is a graduate of Wellesley College, one of the many all-female schools participating in the NeXXt Scholarship program.