Writer: Tiffany Acosta
The U.S. Department of Education has recently awarded a five-year grant for $1.1 million to the New Mexico State University TRiO Student Support Services Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and STEM Health Services Program to serve 120 students each year.
The goals of the program are to increase the retention and graduation rates of first generation students, low-income students and students with a disability who have declared a STEMH major. NMSU TRiO SSS participants receive a variety of academic success and social support services to assist with the transition to the university.
“This grant from the Department of Education provides us the resources to specifically address the needs of low-income, first generation students who are pursuing degrees in the STEMH fields,” said J. Phil King, associate professor and associate department head in civil engineering. “While STEMH careers tend to be well paying and address key societal needs, the academic preparation for them is notoriously rigorous and challenging. The added challenges of low-income, first generation students put them at even greater risk of not completing a STEMH degree. By offering a wide range of academic, social and personal support services, as well as opportunities to engage in professional development activities, our goal is to seed new family traditions of higher education in STEMH, which we hope will propagate from our students through future generations.”
Students will receive individualized programs to support retention and graduation objectives including required tutoring, academic advising, peer and faculty mentoring/coaching, financial/economic literacy, STEMH leadership/professional development, preparation for graduate/professional school and financial aid and scholarship workshops.
The program is a collaboration between the colleges of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences; Arts and Sciences; Engineering; Health and Social Services; and the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
Following the retirement of College of Engineering Dean Ricardo Jacquez, King is now the principal investigator for the grant. Terry L. Cook, assistant vice president for student engagement, and Bernadette Montoya, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, are co-principal investigators for the grant.