STC engages faculty who are leading the way into 21st century careers

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Texas Border Business

MCALLEN, TX (Aug. 4, 2017) – South Texas College kicked off its program dedicated to faculty across the Valley who over the course of the next several months will be exposed to new concepts in STEM via highly specialized training provided by STC staff.

The college officially welcomed its third cohort of the STEM Faculty Institute on Tuesday July 25 at STC’s Cooper Center. The event began with an introduction from South Texas College President Dr. Shirley A. Reed and South Texas College Dean of Math, Science, and Bachelor Programs, Dr. Ali Esmaeili.

Working under the auspices of the Texas Regional STEM Degree Accelerator (TRSDA), 56 faculty members from nine school districts, two community colleges and two universities across the Valley, have begun intensive training with the intent to enrich students’ learning experience in STEM related fields.

“With this grant, they were going to pick just a few areas of Texas to launch this STEM project asking ‘who could prepare STEM teachers and faculty’ and ‘who can work with industry to develop partnerships and develop a plan to prepare the workforce industry needs’,” Dr. Reed told attendees. “They asked us to work with the IT industry and the healthcare industry, two major employers in South Texas. If they didn’t have the confidence in us, we would have never received this major grant. If we didn’t have the confidence in each and every one of you, we would have never accepted this challenge.”
The faculty institute began with a four day summer camp from July 25-28. Tours were held on the last day of camp. The institute will meet again on Sept. 28-29, and the final meeting will be on Nov. 2, which will also be graduation day.

During the course of the program, participants maintain contact through Blackboard and answer discussion questions. They also participate in group projects throughout the sessions which they will present at the end of the 7-day training which spans four months.
At the kick-off event, faculty had the opportunity to participate in panels featuring experts in Information Technology including Sergio Castro, 911 Director for the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC); Representatives from CODE RGV including co-founder Rene Ramirez and Diana Berger; Sebastian Ivanisky representing VTX1, a communications provider based in Raymondville, TX; and Jay Leal, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer with Inter National Bank.

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Speakers participating in the healthcare panel included Dr. Armour Forse, Chief Academic Officer at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance; Pamela Bond, Director of Education and David Irizarry, VP at Rio Grande Regional Hospital; and Patty McClelland, Director of Human Resources at McAllen Medical Center.

“The whole idea behind this is that faculty go back to their classrooms and share their experiences with their students. We want to make that career connection,” said TRSDA Grant Director Valerie Gamez. “At every point along the way we try to get faculty to impress these experiences upon their students and guide them to the workforce.
“When it comes to industry, we are asking employers what they need to see in their employees,” Gamez said.

Educate Texas awarded South Texas College an $800,000 grant to help support the training of approximately 200 (67 per year) regional STEM faculty over a three year period. The goal of the initiative is to align curriculum between K-12 and higher education institutions in an effort to increase interest in STEM, and help students successfully complete a STEM-focused program of study, specifically in either healthcare or computer information technology.

Through the program, the mission will be to provide training, as well as community and industry collaboration to benefit more than 200 RGV-area faculty and over 30,000 STEM students across the Rio Grande Valley. South Texas College will serve as the catalyst, urging students to move forward with their completion of certificates, associates and bachelor’s degrees over the term of the TRSDA and beyond.