Students start STEM strong, thanks to San Jac, Rice grant

May 2, 2022Courtney Morris

Students need a solid math foundation to excel in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

A collaborative grant between San Jacinto College and Rice University will give students the resources not only to launch a STEM degree plan but also to succeed in completing that degree and pursuing a connected career.

San Jac and Rice faculty and administrators celebrated their partnership during an AIM for STEM luncheon April 20.

In fall 2021, both institutions received the $995,417 AIM for STEM grant from the National Science Foundation. Grant co-principal investigators Dr. Rachel Garcia, Dr. Jackeline Webb, and Dr. Richard Tapia are aiming to increase the number of students earning Associate of Science degrees and continuing to higher STEM degrees.

Garcia is the Central Campus department chair of physical sciences, Webb the South Campus department chair of mathematics, and Tapia a world-renowned Rice professor and researcher.

During the luncheon at the Central Campus, Tapia touched on his community college roots, where an advisor saw his potential and encouraged him to pursue the University of California, Los Angeles. The rest was history for him.

"You play an important role in the country's education," Tapia said about San Jac. "I'm happy and honored to work with you on this grant project."

The AIM for STEM grant funds a three-year partnership with Rice to provide professional development opportunities for San Jac's math and college prep faculty.

"We have a robust and holistic approach to STEM," Dr. Alexander Okwonna, North Campus provost, said. "We're excited about what this opportunity means for our students and San Jac's STEM programs."

Okwonna is facilitating another grant, HispanoSTEM from the U.S. Department of Education, to support STEM studies further at San Jac.

AIM for STEM creates a Summer Institute in Mathematics facilitated by Rice's Tapia Center for Excellence and Equity. San Jac math and college prep faculty will participate in intensive pedagogy sessions, focus on evidence-based theories, develop curriculum, and tour Rice research labs to observe math principles in current research advancements.

San Jac professors participating in the project include Aurora Alvarez, Eliud Castillo, Kate Dinwiddie, Kristen Foxley, Carolyn Harnsberry, Key Hayashi, Dhouha Kelibi, Sandra McCurdy, Abigail Payne, Eduardo Rossi, and Dr. Shannon Solis.

AIM for STEM Luncheon 4-20-22

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