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MDC Wolfson Campus Receives $2.4 Million Grant to Build Gateway Programs

Funds will support first-time-in-college Hispanic students majoring in science technology, engineering, and mathematics
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Miami, October 20, 2010 - Miami Dade College’s (MDC) Wolfson Campus has recently been awarded $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s “Strengthening Institutions – Hispanic Serving Institutions” program.

The grant program helps institutions like MDC enhance and expand their capacity to serve Hispanic and low-income students by providing funds to improve its academic quality, institutional stability, management, and fiscal capabilities. 

The grant will be used by the Wolfson Campus to implement the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) First-Year Experience program with three separate components. The first will be a new Student Success Center for Hispanic students with declared STEM majors.

The center will deliver retention, transition, and career services including academic advisement, scholarship/internship information, tutoring, mentoring, and social networking. 

College administrators have devised a plan to attract and retain Hispanic students who are severely underrepresented in the science and technology fields.

“We have developed a strategic enrollment plan for STEM degree programs that will help us reach this targeted group of students,” said Dr. Guillermina Damas, MDC science department chair. “Our goal is to reach over 1,500 students each year for the next five years.” 

Other plans for the grant funds include creating a STEM Summer Bridge Program for first-time-in-college Hispanic students between the ages of 17-25 who have an interest in STEM degree programs. College officials believe this type of program will accelerate student interest into postsecondary education, particularly into STEM degree programs. About 100 students are expected to participate in the Summer Bridge Program.   

“The level of services we’re offering should stimulate interest in students who generally need a lot of guidance,” said Dr. Damas.

“We’re hoping with specialized services - such as academic and career advisement, high school to college transition programs, test preparation assistance, supplemental instruction, learning communities that focus on math development, and community outreach to promote these degree programs to disadvantaged Hispanic populations – college enrollment will increase dramatically.” 

The final component of the grant is the creation of an extended teaching program, called the STEM Pedagogy, which includes a first-year orientation course. This approach will emphasize active, collaborative learning, and student engagement.

“Students will be exposed to STEM pedagogy based on the most current and well-documented best practices to increase student learning and success,” said Dr. Damas. “Our projection is to enroll 300 students in in the orientation course and infuse approximately 5400 semester credits with STEMP pedagogy.”

For more information about the STEM First-Year Experience program, call 305-237-3927 or e-mail:


Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
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