South Mountain Community College excels in serving Hispanic STEM students

The Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) recognized South Mountain Community College (SMCC) for excelling in its support for Hispanic STEM students.

The OCCRL works to “improve policies, programs, and practices to enhance community college education and transition to college for diverse learners at the state, national, and international levels,” according to its website.

OCCRL recently visited SMCC to learn more about its programs and examine it for Hispanic-Serving Community College STEM Pipelines, a case study for a National Science Foundation grant.

PR and marketing manager Bruce Battle said SMCC was honored to have OCCRL visit, and “we are thrilled that the hard work of so many at the college, from the leadership, and faculty to the students themselves, is transforming the lives of so many.”

SMCC works to guide all of its students down the path of academic success, but it realizes that students come from a variety of backgrounds and face unique challenges.

“At SMCC we look at the whole student. We don’t necessarily consider whether the student is Hispanic or not, but we do consider the fact that many of our students are simply not exposed to the opportunities available to them,” Battle said. “We recognize the need to raise the bar of expectations, and they rise to the occasion.”

He said, “Faculty tell stories of students who come back to visit once they have transferred to university. All of them without exception described how the nurturing environment at SMCC bolstered their success, and how much the care and concern they showed meant to them as a person.”

According to the U.S Department of Education Hispanics and STEM report, Hispanics accounted for 16 percent of the U.S. population between 2009 and 2010 but earned just 8 percent of all certificates and degrees awarded in the STEM fields.

But, STEM jobs are rapidly growing and need to be filled.

According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SMEC), STEM-related jobs grew at three times the rate of non-STEM job between 2000 and 2010. The growth continues as the SSEC said it was projected that 2.4 million STEM jobs would go unfilled by 2018.

Supporting Hispanic students in their STEM-related endeavors- just as SMEC does- will help ensure diversity in those high-demand jobs.

In addition to its noteworthy efforts to promote STEM for its Hispanic students, Battle explained that SMCC partners with Intel for the Hermanas Latinas Conference every year.

He said it “encourages young Latina students to pursue the STEM fields, specifically engineering.”

Sierra Ciaramella

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