GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 133-3
Presentation Time: 2:05 PM


FAY, Noah P.1, SCHMIDT, Nancy2, FLESSA, Karl W.3, ALEXANDER, Emily3, STOKES, Philip J.4, CLAH, Jesse3, GABRIEL, Matthew J.3, KELLEY, Andrew3, LEBLANC, Vincent M.3, LUHR, Shane3 and NIETO, Christian J.3, (1)Science, Pima Community College, Northwest Campus, 7600 North Shannon Road, Tucson, AZ 85709, (2)Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Department, Pima Community College-West Campus, 2205 W. Anklam Rd., Tucson, AZ 85709, (3)Department of Geosciences, University of Arizona, 1040 E. 4th St, Room 208, Tucson, AZ 85721, (4)Penn Dixie Paleontological & Outdoor Education Center, 3556 Lakeshore Rd, Blasdell, NY 14219,

The University of Arizona (UA) and Pima Community College (PCC) have established a community-based mentoring and internship program for UA geoscience majors who have transferred from PCC and other two-year colleges (2YCs). UA Geosciences currently enrolls 250 B.S. majors; about 50 are transfers from PCC and other 2YCs. Each year, approximately 20 2YC students transfer into UA Geosciences; most are from PCC. Despite course alignment, shared faculty and UA advisors at PCC, transfer students are often lacking in academic skills, unsure of UA degree requirements, uncertain about local job prospects and approaches to job-hunting and concerned about financial support.

NSF support has allowed us to establish GeoPathways: a recruiting, mentoring and internship program for transfer students. In our first year, ten students participated in a College of Science workshop on academic skills in the first semester; eight GeoPathways students took part in a second semester Geosciences workshop on job-hunting skills. GeoPathways students returned to PCC to present classroom activities and lead field trips to a nearby mountain and to a UA-operated mine. Geology content was attractive to PCC students and faculty: the biggest bonus was the peer-mentoring about course recommendations, major requirements and campus life. Recruiting and retention in GeoPathways remains a challenge because the program adds to, rather than replaces, other demands on the students’ time.

Local agencies, businesses and NGOs offered 14 internships for six eligible students. NSF funds provided $5K for eight weeks during summer at USGS, MetroWater, SRK Consulting, GeoDecor, Montgomery and Associates and Clear Creek Associates. We addressed concerns regarding liability for students by enrolling some in a for-credit summer internship course at UA, thus protecting the hosts, but costing more money. Interns will report on their experiences.

GeoPathways provides mentoring, academic and professional skills, recruiting, closer ties with PCC, job experience and financial support. Year 1 was a good start for the program and for the students.