Seventeen students are poised for STEM success as part of an inaugural cohort of Greer Scholars at Moraine Valley Community College.
Moraine Valley is the first Chicago area community college grantee of the Greer Foundation, which supports organizations that are committed to helping people improve their lives. With the Greer Scholars Program, the Greer Foundation’s goal is to help diversify STEM careers by funding and supporting students who are underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“For our students, one of the biggest barriers to completing their college degree is the cost,” said Kristy McGreal, executive director of the Moraine Valley Foundation. “The Greer Foundation has stepped in to remove that barrier and provide our Greer Scholars with wraparound support services to help them navigate higher education and graduate with advanced degrees in STEM-related disciplines.”
Lisa Sanchez, the Greer Foundation’s chief financial officer, said Moraine Valley’s students are joining 1,800 Greer scholars. Sanchez visited the college in October and offered encouragement to the scholars.
“We think it’s so important for you to continue your education,” she said. “We’re so glad you’re here, and we’re so glad to sponsor you. Moraine Valley has awesome support services to help you be successful, but ask yourself, ‘Am I doing everything I can do to be successful?’ While others can provide support, but only you can do the work.”
With renewable scholarships of $2,500 to $3,000 annually, Greer Scholars benefit from one-on-one advising and mentoring, plus cross-disciplinary STEM experiences. They also must be enrolled in more than 12 credit hours per semester and maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. The Greer Foundation is offering Moraine Valley Greer Scholars graduates the opportunity to further their education at a four-year college or university, too, by providing additional funding.
Dr. Paula DeAnda-Shah, professor of math and STEM Center coordinator at Moraine Valley, is leading the scholars along with Student Success specialist Elizabeth Barrera. DeAnda-Shah and Barrera regularly meet with the scholars for check-ins, goal setting and progress tracking. Scholars also attend professional development events and STEM experiences, such as a field trip to the University of Illinois Chicago’s Innovation Center, an exploratory hike at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center and a visit to the college’s cadaver lab.
“Our hope is to expose these students to a lot of different experiences and help them find a path they feel good about,” DeAnda-Shah said. “Moraine Valley is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to start here. Students will be on par with anyone at four-year schools when they transfer.”
Student Janice Gbedo, who plans to become a pharmacist, said she’s thankful for the Greer Foundation scholarship and the support from DeAnda-Shah and Barrera.
“You never question yourself if you belong here,” she said of the support and sense of community fostered among the Greer Scholars. “You are supposed to be part of this group.”
With this year’s cohort of students off to a strong start, McGreal said Moraine Valley, with the support of the Greer Foundation, hopes to expand the program to more students.
“Moraine Valley is beyond excited to be the first community college partner for the Greer Foundation, and we’re excited to see our scholars start their journey and grow into their future STEM careers,” she said.
For more information about STEM opportunities, including the Greer Scholars program, visit morainevalley.edu/stem.
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