Hispanic, first-generation and low-income college students at San Diego Mesa College will receive a big boost, thanks to a five-year, $5 million Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The award will be used over a five-year period to improve and increase Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) progress through a student, faculty and pathways focus.
After a competitive nationwide process, approximately 38 colleges and universities in California were selected for the federal five-year grant. The program provides annual grants to assist Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic students. Mesa College will receive $5,043,486 over the next five years. The Hispanic student population at Mesa College has grown substantially in recent years, with 37 percent of fall 2016 students being of Hispanic/Latino descent.
The Mesa College Title III grant proposal, entitled “STEM Conexiones” (STEM Connections) supports a number of instructional and student support practices aimed at strengthening the college’s capacity to serve underrepresented students. Specifically, the grant aims to increase student connections through enhanced counseling services, peer mentoring and outreach, faculty connections through professional development and curriculum redesign, and pathways connections working directly with high schools and adult learners to prepare them for STEM majors.
Through this grant the college will establish a STEM Center, a place where students, peer mentors and faculty will work together on classroom support, and a research incubator for students to begin undergraduate research projects.
“We are excited and honored that we continue to be recognized for our work in diversity, equity and inclusion. This is Mesa’s third major grant; we are currently in the third year of a Title V HSI grant that is changing the landscape of the college, and we were recently granted a Basic Skills Enhancement grant to continue our work in accelerating students to and through college level work. This new grant leverages all of these resources and catapults the college into cutting edge practices, noted president, Dr. Pamela Luster.
The genesis and energy to apply for this grant came directly from the STEM faculty, led by Chemistry Professor Dr. Donna Budzynski, and Biology Assistant Professor, Dr. Jennifer Carmichael. They interviewed their colleagues, students, and others across STEM disciplines to assess the colleges’ needs, and to put together this three pronged approach to increasing access and success for STEM students. Dr. Budzynski notes, “The faculty is really excited that this grant will help us expand our work with students and help them achieve their goals through increased access to mentoring, tutoring and interactive learning environments.”
This is the first Title III-HSI-STEM grant for Mesa College, which was designated in April 2012 as an eligible Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) under Title III and Title V programs of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended by the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEA). Mesa is currently in its third year of a 5 year Title V-HSI Grant awarded in 2013.
The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Board of Trustees will review the grant for acceptance at a meeting in October 2016.