Today, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion continues its celebration of Hispanic-Serving Institutions Week, which recognizes HSIs throughout the nation for their work and critical role in educating and empowering Hispanic and Latina/o/x people. Stay tuned for more stories highlighting events, programs and staff members that contribute to our mission of being a model of HSI excellence.
Upon earning HSI designation in 2019, Metropolitan State University of Denver became eligible to pursue new grant and funding opportunities. Recently, the University received two Hispanic-Serving Institution grants.
Learning Assistant Transfer Pathway: Fostering STEM Connections
The first grant is a Title III Part F: HSI STEM and Articulation program grant, titled Learning Assistant Transfer Pathway: Fostering STEM Connections program, for $300,000. The program is in collaboration with Community College of Denver and will examine the benefits of a shared Learning Assistant experience to promote transfer from the community college into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) bachelor’s-degree-granting institution. The LA Program at MSU Denver has been shown to improve retention, learning outcomes and a sense of belonging for students in STEM programs, especially for underrepresented minority students.
The Learning Assistant Transfer Pathway Pilot Program will explore the use of near-peer, content-specific role models and mentoring as a way to create a strong foundation for successful transfer experiences as well as improved retention and learning outcomes in STEM programs. The LATP aims to support transfer-interested students in a unique, cross-institutional community-building project that is designed to broaden STEM participation. It plans to do this by addressing the overwhelming gap in the number of students who wish to transfer from the community college into a bachelor’s-degree-granting institution and those who actually do. The sustained contact with near-peer undergraduates as role models and mentors serves to improve the sense of belonging and inclusion in STEM teaching and learning and create a pathway for success that could easily be implemented with and by other institutions, especially with online learning options. Successful transfer experiences and STEM-specific interinstitutional communities will lead to an increased number of diverse STEM majors and graduates.
Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program for MSU Denver’s SpaceTech Scholars
The second grant, for $2.9 million, goes to a Title V Part A: Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program for MSU Denver’s SpaceTech Scholars program. The grant aims to address the demonstrated need for aerospace and engineering technicians in Colorado (and the United States) as well as the lack of diversity in this industry. SpaceTech Scholars will improve the recruitment, retention, graduation and career-placement rates of Hispanic, Latina/o/x and other underrepresented students as entry-level technicians in aerospace and engineering. These goals will be achieved through the development of a linked learning community, which includes:
- The creation of a clear aerospace/engineer-technician pathway.
- Dual-enrollment opportunities for high school youth interested in this field of work.
- Exposure to engineering/aerospace opportunities and diverse professionals in these fields for students, starting in middle/high school.
- Comprehensive support systems for MSU Denver students who enroll in this new career pathway, including intrusive advising and career navigation, academic support, internship opportunities, financial aid and literacy, social capital and other supportive services to eliminate barriers facing Hispanic, Latina/o/x and other low-income students.
The program objectives include:
- Enrolling an increased number of Hispanic and Latina/o/x students in aerospace/engineering, reducing barriers to enrollment through a new career pathway, Aerospace Engineering Technician.
- Increasing the interest in engineering/aerospace careers by Hispanic/low-income middle/high school students through educational/awareness and outreach events and an annual summer camp.
- Increasing the interest in engineering/aerospace careers by Hispanic/low-income MSU Denver students through educational and awareness opportunities.
- Increasing the enrollment and retention rates of Hispanic/low-income students in the AET pathway.
- Increasing the graduation and career-placement rates of Hispanic/low-income students in the AET pathway.
The University looks forward to the positive impact that these grants will have on MSU Denver students, faculty, staff and community.