Title V STEM Program Aims to Move Needle on Student Success

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A federal grant program aimed at addressing inequities in STEM education is under implementation at La Sierra University, which helps at-risk students earn bachelor’s degrees and pursue STEM careers.

Directed toward Hispanic and low-income students, the grant, Guided Pathways to Success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is funded by a $3 million Title V award received in October 2019 from the U.S. Department of Education.

“We believe that students shouldn’t be limited by barriers to success because of their circumstances,” said Dr. Marvin Payne, Director of Title V Programs at La Sierra University. “Our programs are helping to break down the barriers.”

The funding supports development, improvement, and expansion of programs that increase equitable access to STEM degree programs and improve graduation rates, bolstering the STEM workforce. The university, whose student body is more than 45% Hispanic, was among 43 colleges and universities around the country approved to receive a Title V STEM grant through the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions program in 2019.

The Guided Pathways to Success grant, a five-year allocation, is currently focusing on supporting high school seniors who plan to enroll in a California community college; are interested in chemistry, computer science, physics, and other STEM majors; and desire to transfer into a four-year program to complete a bachelor’s degree. These community college students can apply to join La Sierra’s Guided Pathways program in which advisors create an individualized roadmap of courses detailing a track from community college through to a La Sierra four-year degree. Advisors will meet regularly with Guided Pathways participants and provide direction and support. Students will receive supplemental instruction and advice in study skills, financial literacy education, and research and career opportunities.

Community college students in the Guided Pathways program will be eligible to enter La Sierra at the junior level and earn a bachelor’s degree within two years of full-time study if they complete community college courses within three consecutive years and maintain a 2.5 grade point average.

Guided Pathways enrollees will be assigned a La Sierra student identification number and may participate in La Sierra activities and campus programs while in community college.

“If anyone doubted the need for qualified STEM professionals before the COVID pandemic, it should be clear now,” said Payne. “Through these grants and collaborations, we are working to create an environment where students can realize their potential and make a difference in the world.”

For more on this story, visit www.lasierra.edu.

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By Darla Martin Tucker