The State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) today announced that six more colleges will now offer MESA — a program that helps students of color and women transfer to universities for STEM-related degrees and careers.
MESA — which stands for Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement — will expand to:
- Clark College (Vancouver)
- Everett Community College
- Green River College
- Spokane Falls Community College
- Tacoma Community College
- Wenatchee Valley College
MESA serves students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Pacific Islanders and women.
Most MESA students are the first in their families to attend college, are low-income, and have not been exposed to STEM curricula and career choices. MESA provides these students tutoring and mentoring, extra study sessions, transfer counseling and study centers to help them succeed in math and science before they transfer for further study.
“The MESA program shows underserved community and technical college students that they belong at four-year universities to study STEM,” says James Dorsey, MESA director.
Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC executive director, agreed. “MESA exposes smart, hard-working students to the world of opportunity in STEM industries and helps them get there.”
The six colleges will each receive $125,000 annually for the MESA program. Six other Washington community colleges already offer MESA, bringing the total to 12 of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges. The program is already offered at Olympic College, Edmonds Community College, Seattle Central College, Highline College, Yakima Valley College and Columbia Basin College.
Research by SBCTC shows that colleges offering MESA have greater diversity among graduates with Associate of Science-Transfer degrees.
Michael Schultzer, CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association, credited the Legislature for expanding MESA. “The diversity gap is real in our tech community,” he said. “In order to secure the brightest minds, tech companies need to draw from a deeper, more diverse talent pool.”
According to a report released today by the Technology Alliance, Washington will have 160,000 STEM-related job openings by 2020 but too few graduates with STEM-related certificates and degrees.
The report found that, while most STEM jobs are related to computing occupations, the demand for STEM talent reaches into other economic sectors of Washington as well. Examples include food production in Central Washington, hospitals in Spokane and engineering in the Tri-Cities.