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Investing in STEM on…

At Palo Alto College, our collective focus is to ensure our students have every resource to be successful. Our students are the future workforce of San Antonio, and we know that as our city grows, our workforce demands will increase.
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Investing in STEM on the South Side

At Palo Alto College, our collective focus is to ensure our students have every resource to be successful throughout their educational journey and to be prepared for their futures after they graduate. Our students are the future workforce of San Antonio, and we know that as our city grows, our workforce demands will increase.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, occupations across the country grew by 10.5 percent over a six-year period — and more than 99 percent of those occupations require some type of education beyond high school. In an effort to support the growing demands in STEM fields in San Antonio, Palo Alto College has spent several years planning concentrated efforts to promote STEM in our community by providing early educational access, high-caliber programs and scholarships to increase students’ access to STEM programs.

Over the past few years, Palo Alto College has received several competitive grants providing a total of $4.8 million to enhance STEM accessibility on campus. The grants fund academic resources, scholarships and other activities related to STEM, such as offering free summer camps each year for children 5 to 12, and partnering with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for the annual CORE4 STEM Family Day celebration each fall. A free event for the community, CORE4 STEM Family Day provides students and their families the opportunity to participate in hands-on STEM-related activities that help them discover their potential in these areas and show them the exciting aspects of the sciences.

In 2014, Palo Alto College partnered with Harlandale ISD to launch the state’s first STEM Early College High School, which provides high school students with the opportunity to earn associate degrees in STEM subjects while completing their high school diploma. The first graduating class from STEM Early College will cross the stage in May, with many students earning their associate degree before receiving their high school diploma.

With 80 percent of our graduates opting to stay in our area after graduation, it’s paramount that we analyze future growth in South San Antonio and what the job opportunities might be. In recent years, Palo Alto College has launched several new academic programs, including Energy Technology and Industrial Technology, that teach foundational skills applicable to a variety of STEM fields, and allow students to earn certificates and associate degrees. Exploratory programs, such as dental hygiene, health care administration and nursing, will soon be accessible to students attending Palo Alto College and provide them skills to earn a higher wage.

As job growth continues in STEM industries in San Antonio and just as we have done since we opened our doors in 1985, Palo Alto College will continue to serve in the best interest for our community.

This column by Dr. Mike Flores, President of Palo Alto College, was originally published in the Southside Reporter and on mySA.com. To view the original publication, click here

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