Left to right: Laura Blasi, Polk State College’s John Fynn, Kassy Holmes and Eda Davis-Lowe
Valencia College staff members were recently featured in two education publications for their positive, impactful work surrounding underrepresented minorities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
A recent issue of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, a magazine focusing on matters of access and opportunity for all in higher education, highlighted a panel presentation by Eda Davis-Lowe, assistant vice president, partnerships for educational equity; Laura Blasi, director, institutional evaluation; Kassy Holmes, project director of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program; and John Fynn, an LSAMP colleague at Polk State College.
The group presented on the work of the Central Florida STEM Alliance under the National Science Foundation’s LSAMP program at a session held at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) 2020 annual meeting in late January.
The alliance is a multi-college program in Central Florida that is working to attract, enhance and support the participation of community college students in STEM fields. Its approach focuses on providing a summer bridge program, a cohort model, hands-on mentoring and other important professional experiences to students, such as research. Currently, it is a joint initiative between Valencia College, College of Central Florida, Daytona State College and Polk State College and is being hailed as a model for other community colleges.
Laura said the collaboration between the schools allows them to share data about best practices across institutional boundaries, according to the article.
Panelists stressed the value of a collaborative model, which Eda called “the heartbeat” of the Louis Stokes Alliance.
A second article, published in Education Dive, discussed ways in which community colleges are improving STEM education. Valencia College was highlighted for its STEM Alliance work to help two-year college students participate and succeed in these fields.
The article, titled “3 Ways Community Colleges are Improving STEM Education,” outlined the need of this work by pointing out that just 12.6% of black students and 16.7% of Hispanic students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2016 did so in a STEM field, according to a 2019 report from the American Council on Education.