Established by the Paal family to honor the legacy and memory of Romana Kemeny Paal-Stein (RKPS), Milestone C is proud to offer the RKPS STEM Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to two female students in Connecticut each semester and cover full tuition for one internship experience of their choice.
As Hungarian refugees in Montreal in the late 1950s, Romana and her husband both applied to the McGill Graduate School of Engineering. Her husband was admitted forthwith. However, the university refused to accept her credentials at face value, and Romana was required to take the comprehensive exam undergraduates had to pass to earn their degrees. In a class of 300, Romana scored in the top three and went on to earn master’s degrees from McGill and Stanford before beginning her long and distinguished career as an aeronautical engineer, mechanical engineer, and a college professor.
Her family helped establish this scholarship to support more young women’s dreams to pursue careers in STEM fields.
Apply for the RKPS Scholarship Now
This form combines your RKPS scholarship application and local program registration. You do not have to submit a separate registration form.
Milestone C requires a teacher to sponsor the student for the RKPS scholarship and recommend her based on motivation, potential, and academic performance. The sponsor teacher’s name and contact information are required fields on the scholarship application form below.
A Milestone C representative will contact you soon to announce a decision or request more information.
Full RKPS Biography
Romana Kemeny Paal-Stein was an aeronautical and mechanical engineer back when engineers still used slide rules, and she was almost always the only woman in the room whenever her professional peers got together.
She was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, where she showed an aptitude for aeronautics at a young age. During World War II, much of which she spent in bomb shelters, she learned to identify different countries’ airplanes by the sound of their engines. She and her then-husband were among the thousands of Hungarian refugees who walked over the border into Austria shortly after the 1956 Hungarian uprising. They had with them the clothes they were wearing, about $150 in cash, and their diplomas from the Technical University of Budapest.
After a six months’ stay in a Viennese relocation center, they arrived in Montreal, Canada, where Romana became one of the first female graduates from the McGill University Graduate School of Engineering, earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Her first day leading a class there became the stuff of family lore. The shock and skepticism of the all-male undergraduate class was evident; they refused to believe this young woman, who looked barely older than a high-school student, was a competent, educated engineer. It took them only a few minutes of hearing her talk in her accented English to recognize her mastery of the subject. At the end of that first class, they gave her a standing ovation.
After McGill, Romana won an Amelia Earhart fellowship to Stanford University, where she earned a master’s in aeronautical engineering. She worked in the aircraft industry as an engineer and later as an engineering consultant. Whenever she took a commercial flight in the 1960s and 70s, she would describe the technical specifications of the aircraft she was on to her traveling companions.
Romana also began a decades-long career teaching math and engineering at Long Beach City College in Long Beach, California, in the 1960s, where she encouraged people from all walks of life to pursue STEM careers. She was also always happy to tutor her children and their friends with their math studies in middle and high school.
Romana died in 1993 at age 60 of cancer. Her family helped establish the RKPS STEM scholarship to support more young women’s dreams to pursue careers in STEM fields.