A new program at Green River College will focus on helping students of color and women transfer to universities for STEM-related degrees and careers.
MESA – which stands for Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement – serves students who are traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields, including African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Pacific Islanders and women.
STEM refers to the education fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
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 before they transfer for further study.
According to Green River President Suzanne Johnson, the MESA program aligns with the college’s mission to ensure student success through comprehensive educational programs and support services responsive to diverse communities.
“The MESA program allows us to reach out to traditionally underrepresented students and show them that not only do they have a place at Green River College, but also a future in STEM fields,” Johnson said.
Green River is one of 12 colleges within the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges system to offer the program. Each college will receive $125,000 annually to support the MESA program.
Michael Schultzer, head 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 recently released report 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.