Lehigh Carbon Community College has received a boost to efforts to get Hispanic students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The National Science Foundation has given the school a three-year, $200,000 grant to increase the number of Hispanic students in STEM classes.
The grant will support a first-year experience course for Hispanic students to attract them to STEM majors. In addition, the project will address improving students’ sense of belonging to a career where Hispanic and Latino graduates are not well represented.
It is expected that between 30 and 40 STEM-interested Hispanic students will enroll in the STEM track.
Hispanic enrollment at colleges and universities nationwide has increased by 34% over the past few years. More Hispanics are entering the workforce, yet LCCC said STEM education is lagging behind. Just 8% of the STEM workforce identify as Hispanic.
LCCC has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, with a student body comprised of more than 28% Hispanic or Latino students.
The college developed the Aspira First-Year Experience initiative to support Hispanic students with their transition to college, understanding that developing a sense of belonging has a dramatic impact on students’ academic performance. With this NSF funding, the existing Aspira program will be adapted to a pilot program specific to STEM-interested Hispanic students.
This course will incorporate topics integral to Hispanic student success, including motivation, self-management, goal setting, critical thinking, test taking and career exploration. Students will learn about STEM fields and hear from Hispanic leaders from local companies about the STEM industry.
Scholarships, peer mentoring and faculty professional development will also be offered.