Resources aid student growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics

By Dan Hardin, Advocate Staff

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program at Contra Costa College is charged with the task of educating and supporting students in reaching personal, educational, transfer and career goals.

Comprehensive, counseling and supportive services were put into place to assist students studying in STEM fields and with transferring to a four-year institution.

Because of the specialized counseling and supportive services, academic progress and transfers are on the rise STEM counselor Lorena Gonzalez said.

“I come to the Physical Science Building on Thursdays from 1-3 p.m. for drop-in advising and counseling at the STEM Center,” Gonzalez said. “Normally I can be found in the Student Service Center.”

Office hours at the STEM Center are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Students can also schedule an appointment with Gonzalez in the SSC-108 in the counseling office.

Gonzalez said making sure students at CCC can graduate and continue their education in the field of their choice is important to her because education unlocks doors.

“STEM counselors help students devise a comprehensive educational plan, as well as finding programs, workshops and activities that will keep the student engaged,” Gonzalez said.

STEM Center Program Coordinator Ysrael F. Condori said under the STEM umbrella are programs like Math Jam, Metas, Adelante and Center for Science Excellence (CSE). “These programs provide students with opportunities to flourish both personally and professionally.”

Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Equity Mayra Padilla said one of the more popular programs is Math Jam.

“Math Jam is for students that are anxious about taking math or students that have not taken it for a long time,” she said.

“It’s a math preparation program offered during the intermission periods before both fall and spring semesters. In the program, students receive a review of key math concepts from the previous semester and a preview of concepts that will be covered in upcoming math courses.

“The instructor, counselor, tutor and student all get together as a team to address any emotional, financial, logistical or social issues that the student may have. The goal is to equip them to make the most of his or her opportunity,” Padilla said.

Metas, from Spanish to English translates to “goals.”

The goal of the Metas program is to better prepare or equip students from preschool through-third-grade with literacy and introduction to STEM education through games and activities.

Students in grades four through 12 are offered tutoring and academic enrichment courses through the implementation of academic guidelines and standards for classroom programs.

Adelante, from Spanish to English translates “forward or ahead.”

“The overall goal of Adelante is to expose students to various STEM careers and majors, while also connecting them to resources and support programs. Students participate in, activities, skill building and transfer-focused workshops,” Padilla said.

The CSE provides financial and academic support for students majoring in biological, computer and physical science, mathematics or engineering at CCC.

The CSE has received millions of dollars in grants from the Army Research Office National Science Foundation, the Department of Education and from the University of California.

The funding pays for student assistants, student scholarships, summer research internships, supplies and materials.

Karla Cortes, a second-year biomedical engineer major said, “I have always excelled in math and science. I thank my brother who majored in STEM for being influential in my decision to pursue a STEM related education.”

“He is 6 years older than I am and has always been encouraging and willing to answer any question that I might ask of him,” Cortes said. “What I like most about the program is the sense of community and of being family oriented. I like being around like-minded people working together for a common goal.”