Our nation is facing a critical shortfall in scientists. The National Science Foundation has made the recruitment and retention of a diverse population of science students a key priority.
In Connecticut, this has translated into a major new academic support program for life science students, STRONG-CT, Science and Technology: Reaching Out to New Generations in Connecticut. A Dynamic collaboration between University of Connecticut and three community colleges: Manchester Community College, Three Rivers Community College, and Quinebaug Community College.
This grant targets first generation students, many of whom are African American and Latino/a, who may choose to go to community college as the primary way of accessing higher education. Historically, these students have had limited access to higher education opportunities. Rising costs of post-secondary education, combined with increased competition for admissions to competitive institutions like UConn, and deficient college preparatory curricula in many Connecticut high schools, dramatically constrict the life changes and educational opportunities of many of these students. Increasing the diversity of our student bodies in the STEM disciplines is a strategic priority for all four member institutions within the alliance.
By increasing the numbers of students completing core science courses successfully at the community colleges, we will build the pipeline of students transferring into UConn. These first generation students are unlikely to enter or complete this rigorous course of study without the support systems offered by this program. Thus, they represent new additions to the STEM fields. Long-term, we know working with our community college partners is a critical next step to increasing the pipeline of historically underserved students studying in these areas.