Paper No. 68-19
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
DEVELOPMENT OF THE STEM SCHOLARS PROGRAM AT RED ROCKS COMMUNITY COLLEGE: FINDING WAYS TO HELP STUDENTS SUCCEED
Community colleges are ideally placed to provide STEM career access to a diverse population and increase transfers to four year programs. Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) has built a robust transfer pathway through diligent development of articulation agreements, course alignments and recruiting. Geoscience at RRCC is part of an interdisciplinary science department, which offers many opportunities for unique programs and partnerships. Through our NSF IUSE grant: Empowering the Invisible Minority: Engaging the Low-Income/First Generation Student in STEM, we have been focusing on retention and transfer of our diverse student population. RRCC has developed a multi-pronged effort to address this, including developing a student STEM Scholar Program (SSP), student mentoring, faculty cultural competency training, and increasing access to undergraduate student research and internships. The SSP is for low-income, or first generation college students interested in STEM and looking to transfer to a four-year school. The student program provides community building, mentoring, training, and opportunity through career workshops, research projects, outreach activities, and competitive internship positions. STEM Summer Scholars Research Program is a paid internship for RRCC students, placing them in research projects on either the Colorado School of Mines or CU-Boulder or RRCC campus. With successful summer internships in 2015 and 2016, we are looking to expand the research program to include experiential learning field classes; and climate, atmospheric and aerospace related internships. Students are also encouraged to present their research in a professional setting. There are challenges to designing programs for community colleges that we have tried to address, such as transfer credit limits, a commuter student body, and differential preparation of the students for college. Mentoring, clear pathways and strong partnerships with four-year programs are crucial for the success of our STEM students.