The college is establishing a scholarship program to recruit and support academically talented, financially needy students and enable them to attain higher education degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The project's goals and objectives are being achieved by providing a cluster of academic, enrichment, and research support activities that are designed to promote student success in the completion of an associate's degree and/or transfer to a baccalaureate institution as a STEM major. In addition, the program provides a high level of student-faculty interaction and ample opportunities for the scholars to work with peers and bond as a student cohort. Recipients are recruited and selected from students planning to major in physical sciences (chemistry and physics), biological sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
Intellectual Merit: Through a wide range of support structures and resources, as well as the leadership of an experienced management team, the project is ensuring that scholarship recipients receive all crucial support necessary to achieve success in STEM disciplines. The summer research experiences that are integrated into the program provide invaluable opportunities for selected cohorts from the scholarship recipients to engage in authentic research in established STEM laboratories at partner institutions. This experience prepares students for a seamless transfer to a baccalaureate program in their chosen STEM discipline, as well as increases their likelihood to pursue a career in the field upon graduation.
Broader Impact: The project impact goes beyond just providing scholarships to eligible students in STEM disciplines. It integrates many of the college's existing academic resources with the proposed S-STEM support programs into a unique infrastructure that promotes student success in rigorous STEM curricula and better prepares community college students to pursue a degree or a career in STEM fields. The project is assessing the impact of the program on student retention and success, as well as contributing to the knowledge on effective practices that best prepare community college students for careers in STEM fields. The program is recruiting high qualified students, especially applicants from a diverse population that are historically underrepresented in the STEM disciplines.
The Mt. SAC S-STEM Scholars Programâ€™s primary goal was to recruit and support academically talented, financially needy students and enable them to attain higher education degrees in STEM disciplines. The program activities and strategies focused on recruiting students from a diverse population of students enrolled in various STEM courses at Mt. SAC and included women, persons with disabilities, Hispanics, African-Americans, and/or Native Americans. Students with interests to major in nearly all STEM disciplines such as biological sciences, chemistry, physics, computer science, mathematics and engineering were eligible to apply for scholarship. Our program provided two types of scholarships. First, an average of 36 annual "academic scholarships" ranging from $2,400 to $2,800 was awarded during each year of the final four years of the program to eligible students. Based on the cost of living estimate, this amount deemed sufficient to cover the cost of college tuition, registration fees, some books and partial incidental expenses. Second, "research scholarship" in the amount of $3,000 was awarded to at least 10 STEM Scholars selected annually to conduct 8 weeks of full-time research in the laboratories of leading STEM researchers at one of the partner four-year institutions: University of California Irvine and Harvey Mudd College. A total 261 academic scholarships were awarded throughout the duration of the grant and 60 students also received research scholarship through the program. The research took place during the summer months to allow students concentrate primarily on full-time studies during the academic year. In addition to the financial support, scholarship recipients also received additional support including advising, mentoring, free tutoring and workshops to help them succeed in their STEM courses and transfer to four-year institutions as STEM majors. Detailed analyses of student performance data collected for each annual cohort of STEM scholarship recipients demonstrated significantly improved student retention and success in STEM courses and increased STEM transfer rate to four-year institutions.