The futures of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students at PCC are looking bright with the recent awarding of a $6 million grant that will be used to recruit and support students who wish to be a part of the field.
According to Alex Boekelheide, strategic communications and marketing executive director, PCC is to receive $1.2 million per year for five years from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III program, or Hispanic-Serving Institutions – Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics, and Articulation Programs.
“The new grant builds on the existing Pathways program,” said Brock Klein, associate dean of Pathways.
The Pathways program is designed to support PCC students with the help of a student success team, counselors, tutors and coaches.
“Data show that students progress faster and reach transfer at a higher rate than those not in the program,” said Klein. “However, up until now we’ve had nothing specifically to help STEM students.”
The grant will be used to serve student groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, according to Klein.
“This grant will provide funds to reach out to middle school and high school students to engage them in thinking about PCC and STEM,” he said. “We want to increase the number of students who declare a STEM major.”
One of the goals of the grant is to also reduce the amount of time to transfer for STEM students.
“We will be working with Cal State LA to facilitate transfer,” said Klein.
According to Klein, the grant “will enable Pathways staff to develop ways to modify the program to encourage interest in STEM.”
Identifying scholarship opportunities, developing internships, and redesigning classes to speed up the time it takes to progress through course sequences are some of the tactics that will be employed to smooth a difficult, sometimes five to six year matriculation at PCC, according to Klein.
Though it does build on Pathways, the grant will be used to benefit all STEM students at PCC, not just those in the program.
“The proposed outreach, orientation, course and program redesign, the STEM Success Center, internship opportunities, and transfer activities will impact everyone,” Klein said.