MANCHESTER, Conn. (July 18, 2019) – Manchester Community College was awarded $20,000 by the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation to fund its initiative for female students interested in the sciences, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The grant funding is specially targeted to support students in the college’s Women in STEM initiative, known as WiSTEM. WiSTEM helps increase persistence and graduation rates for women pursuing degrees. It prepares them for STEM careers, according to Jessica Zolciak, the program’s coordinator.
“This learning community helps women prepare for the rigors of college-level science, with the goal of improved retention rates, improved college-completion rates, high participation rates and high rates of satisfaction,” Zolciak said.
The key components of WiSTEM include coordinated coursework and STEM topics, co-curricular seminars covering academic and non-cognitive skills for student success and exploration, guest speakers, visits to baccalaureate institutions and STEM workplaces, and dedicated advisors and interventions for at-risk students. Students also have the opportunity to work in teams on stretch goals involving research projects and staging special events, for which they may get extra credit.
For example, this year WiSTEM students were invited by Professor of Biology Rachel Mintell to help plan an Aquaculture Environmental Learning Center Symposium that focused on how global warming affects the agricultural businesses.
WiSTEM was instituted with the help of an initial grant from Aurora in 2016. Since its inception, some 60 women have participated during their course of study at MCC. Many have continued their STEM educations at senior institutions such as UConn, Eastern Connecticut State University, Central Connecticut State University and Connecticut College.