September 2015, Volume 19, Number 4



Fueling America’s STEM Pipeline

Back in 2000, a study by The National Center for Education Statistics addressed a critical policy concern: the gender and racial/ethnic gap in postsecondary science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education entry and persistence. The research found that under-represented minorities (URMs) are twice as likely to either switch from STEM majors or drop out entirely from STEM education. That means those students are also twice as likely to never attain the high-paying jobs of their peers.

Stepping up to the challenge, MDC’s School of Science is filling the STEM workforce pipeline. MDC is a leading producer of certificate and associate degrees in STEM fields for URMs, according to Excelencia in Education. The numbers are impressive, as the charts at left indicate, and the stories powerful, with the two alumni profiled below serving as noteworthy examples of how MDC students excel to join the ranks of talented graduates who first perfected their research skills at MDC.

While completing an MDC bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, Mercedes Maduro obtained a paid internship at Biotissue, which specializes in regenerative therapies and ocular hygiene.

A native of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Maduro is gratified knowing her work at Biotissue enhances and restores the sight of others.

Her high-profile internship along with her recent acceptance to the University of Florida’s Microbiology and Biochemistry Master’s Program are proof positive of the caliber of students groomed in MDC’s bachelor’s program.

“MDC’s School of Science has opened so many doors for me,” Maduro said. “I got scholarships, research experiences and leadership skills, not to mention the support and mentoring of faculty and administrators who gave me the confidence to apply for my recent internship and graduate school.”

Cuban-American Mitch Rodríguez received an associate degree with a pathway to a major in chemistry and served as a chemistry tutor in the Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) program during his time at Miami Dade College. He recently founded his own company to help others master chemistry.

Rodríguez’s firm Up N’ Atom uses the PLTL model he learned at MDC to offer an online, interactive chemistry learning community that provides free instruction videos, exercises and quizzes for students taking undergraduate chemistry courses.  

“My biggest motivation for this startup was that connection I felt every time I helped a student as an MDC peer tutor,” Rodríguez said. “There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing that look on their faces every time they begin to truly understand chemistry.”

– NN

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