Grand Challenge

Center Spotlight: STEM Center Awarded $49,875 SERS Grant for ARISE Program

Congratulations to Rural Reimagined’s partner the Oakley STEM Center and PI Dr. Darek Potter (Director of STEM Center), Co-PI Dr. Julie Baker (Associate Dean of the College of Education), and Co-PI Mr. Harry Ingle (Director of the College of Engineering Student Success Center) for being awarded a $49,875 grant to develop the Ambassadors for Rural Innovation & STEM Education (ARISE) program. The ARISE program will recruit 20 first-year students (student ambassadors) from economically disadvantaged rural communities who are pursuing STEM and STEM-related majors. 

ARISE grant graphicOver the course of the program year, the student ambassadors will develop skills in teamwork, communication, networking, teaching pedagogy, and community service. They will also gain experiential learning by spending time in P–12 classrooms assisting teachers in the delivery of STEM-related lessons and will be mentored by regional industry partners who will provide them with a well-rounded understanding of local opportunities after graduation. According to Dr. Baker, “STEM educators are a critical need in our local P-12 schools, and through this grant project, we are excited to cultivate interest in STEM and strengthen the educator pipeline along the way.” Mr. Ingle underscores the importance of the industry connections, “Engagement with industry leaders early on in students' academic careers is critical as it allows students to listen, learn, and develop a relationship with someone who has pursued a similar path.” 
Goals of the program include providing the student ambassadors a sense of belonging and community with fellow cohort members, connecting them to their home communities in a way that allows them see firsthand how they can have a positive impact on future generations, and connecting them with industry partners to help address regional workforce needs. Through these points of connection, Dr. Potter believes this program will serve to increase student engagement, success, and retention. Wings up, STEM Center!

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