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New STEM Grant Expected to Assist Students Needs

todayOctober 13, 2015 10

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Kasandra Garza
News Reporter

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Photo by Dylan Lochridge-Fletcher

Student Support Services at Texas State University has received a new grant for STEM students for the first time in Texas State history.

In addition to the Student Support Services funding that Texas State already receives, the university was granted an additional two hundred twenty thousand dollars for students majoring or minoring in science technology, engineering or math.

Director of Student Support Services and Student Support Services of STEM, Cheryl McWilliams, explains how the grant provides opportunities for students, saying “This grant is for Student Support Services program and TRIO program and the purpose of TRIO support services is to increase college retention and graduation rates and to foster institutional climate supporting the success of low income and first generation students and students with disabilities so what we want to do with the funds is provide opportunities for academic development, to assist students with basic college requirements and to motivate students toward a degree completion.”

McWilliams said the grant will be used for the cost of providing services to students, such as academic coaching, wages to hire peer tutors, textbooks, cultural trip expenses, career-related field trips and attending research conferences.  The STEM grant will also host a living learning community (LLC) to be known as Science Pipeline beginning in fall 2016.  Up to 40 students will live and learn together with support from SSS STEM.

McWilliams spoke about the trips students take, as well as the importance of the program.

Students attend cultural trips to help with cultural competency and prepare students to work in a multicultural society.

This year, for example, students are attending a Mediterranean festival that is linked to Mediterranean culture. McWilliams said the organization usually tries to attend a festival, a dance class, a Broadway musical and a cooking class.

McWilliams described other ways the grant will be used to improve graduation rates among students in the program stressing “With the grant, what we’re hoping to do is provide retention services for the students we serve. Everything we do is for the purpose of helping the students that we serve to stay in school, to be retained to graduate so we’re basically a retention program. We serve students that are low income.” The regular student support program serves 200 hundred students per year.

The new STEM program will serve 120 students a year. McWilliams said that each program has goals, which is that more than half of the students in the organization will persist from one academic year to the next, or graduate saying, “All of the goals are ambitious but we feel they are attainable. So all of our services will be provided with the intention of meeting those goals on an annual basis.” McWilliams encourages students who need assistance making it to graduation to apply for Student Support Services.

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