Dallas-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies has awarded Texas Woman’s University with a grant to create additional pathways for community college students to receive four-year STEM degrees.
The gift will fund one-day experiential STEM learning opportunities for 100 community college students from Dallas College, North Central Texas College, and Tarrant County College, and paid, two-week internships for 10 students.
“TWU has developed outstanding relationships with local community colleges over the years, and we are proud to be able to collaborate with three of them to increase an interest in four-year STEM education,” Texas Woman’s Chancellor Carine M. Feyten said in a statement. “We are honored that Lyda Hill Philanthropies, a national leader in STEM funding, has chosen to support this groundbreaking project.”
Critical to region’s economic success
The university said it’s an effort to better position Dallas-Fort Worth for job growth in the life sciences and other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields by increasing the number of college-educated STEM workers ― a move it said is critical to the region’s economic success.
“Lyda Hill Philanthropies is committed to supporting advancements in science and helping students further their education in STEM is key,” Lyda Hill, entrepreneur and founder of the organization, said in a statement. “We are proud to work with Texas Woman’s University, Dallas College, North Central Texas College, and Tarrant County College in this effort and look forward to seeing the success these talented students have in their careers in STEM.”
Juliet V. Spencer, head of the School of the Sciences at TWU, said the project will give community college students the opportunity to work with mentors and graduate students in research laboratories at TWU.
“Studies demonstrate that getting students into research labs and working with faculty on STEM research makes it more likely that they will want to continue their STEM educations, either at the bachelor’s level or in graduate school,” Spencer said.
From successful pilot to expanded project
TWU launched a smaller pilot project earlier this year with Dallas College in which 24 students participated in one-day experiential STEM learning opportunities, including a site visit to the STEM labs on the TWU Denton campus, where they learned about STEM research.
Two of the participants were selected for two-week internships on campus this summer, TWU said.
Because of that program’s success, TWU said it has planned an expanded project for 2024 involving Dallas College, North Central Texas College, and Tarrant County College.
The expanded program will involve 100 students spending a day at TWU.
Of those 100 students, 10 will be offered paid two-week internships on the TWU campus, where they will eventually present their research. The university said that disciplines supported by the project include biology, biochemistry, chemistry, physics, computer sciences, and mathematics.
“Dallas College is thrilled to be partnering with TWU and grateful to Lyda Hill Philanthropies for their support to expand the program. Experiential learning, particularly undergraduate research, provides students with unique opportunities that increase their retention and completion of a STEM credential and provides critical skill building that will help them when they enter the STEM workforce,” Jason Treadway, director of the STEM Institute at Dallas College, said in a statement.
Aiming to double the number of students in STEM
TWU said the project will include robust, multiyear tracking of where participants complete their college educations, as well as scholarship support for at least seven program participants who transfer to TWU to complete their undergraduate STEM degrees.
TWU said its goal is to use data from the pilot project to help scale the program across Texas in the years ahead.
“North Central Texas College is excited to build upon years of successful partnership with Texas Woman’s University to provide this opportunity for our students to explore careers in the fast-growing STEM fields,” Brent Wallace, chancellor of North Central Texas College, said in a statement.
TWU said the project aligns with its current strategic plan, which seeks to double the number of STEM opportunities on campus as a top priority.
With a diverse student body that is 89 percent women, TWU is strongly positioned to support students from groups underrepresented in science who wish to pursue STEM careers.
“This is a great opportunity for our students at Tarrant County College. We are looking forward to working with TWU as we expose Tarrant County College students to innovative research experiences in STEM,” Stephen Jones, dean of mathematics, natural sciences and kinesiology at Tarrant County College, said in a statement.
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