The following was published about MESA in the Legislative News:
“The Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) Community College Program (MCCP) was highlighted at a House Higher Education Committee work session on Tuesday, Feb. 25. MESA provides under-represented students academic and transfer-support services to help them excel and ultimately attain four-year degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) fields. Started in California, the program has successfully been replicated in over a dozen states.
Six colleges — Columbia Basin College, Edmonds Community College, Highline Community College, Olympic College, Seattle Central Community College, Yakima Valley Community College — have participated in a pilot project for the past five years partly funded through a National Science Foundation grant. The grant expires June 30, 2015.
The House Appropriation Committee’s 2014 supplemental budget proposal includes $410,000, one year’s worth of funding to continue the MCCP pilot programs at the six colleges.
James Dorsey, Washington MESA executive director explained how the dedicated support and services — especially the sense of community and connection — help students excel. Services include student orientation, advising, dedicated study centers, STEM career exploration and transfer assistance.
Jeff Wagnitz, Highline Community College vice president of academic affairs, said MESA was a great match for Highline. With 70 percent students of color, the college serves one of the most diverse communities in the state. And Highline has a long academic tradition of STEM programs and resources, including engineering and robotics, a math resource center, computer information systems and cyber-security programs, chemistry and physics labs, science seminars, and the Marine Science and Technology (MaST) Center.
Chera Amlag, Highline Community College MESA director, gave an overview of the program’s academic supports, including Academic Excellence Workshops, the STEM Gateway Course, collaboration with math resource and tutoring centers, individual and group study, success seminars, scholarship, internship, and undergraduate research resources.
Kalani Plunkett, Highline MCCP electrical engineering student, said, “When I told my friends and family that I wanted to be an electrical engineer, they laughed at me.”
But thanks to MCCP at Highline, he gained study skills needed to succeed and connected with university engineering programs and working professionals.
“MESA has a pay it forward philosophy,” Plunkett explained. He eventually became a physics, calculus, and chemistry tutor himself, reaching back to help other students in the same way he’d been helped. He’s been accepted into the engineering programs at Washington State University and University of Michigan.
Lydia Smith, Highline MCCP second year nursing student, was in the military and had been out of school for 13 years. She said the value of MESA connections goes well beyond academic support, with opportunities for scholarships, internships, and friendship.
“MESA is more than just a place to study,” she said. “It’s a community and family that gives us support to keep each other from falling through the cracks.”
A coveted research internship at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has sparked Smith’s goal to earn a PhD in research and development of bacteriophages (viruses that infect and replicate within bacteria) as antibiotics.”
To read the entire story please click here: Legislative News