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STEM Center opens to support student success

By Jonathan Reyes-Sales | Pulse Staff Reporter

Dr. Sherry Yennello, associate Dean for Faculty Affairs of the College of Science at Texas A&M University in San Antonio, Mattice and Wilkins.

Palo Alto College has opened a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Center in hopes of assisting and guiding students interested in pursuing a degree in these areas of study.

"It's everywhere, but students don't realize it. Science is actually cool; it's beyond lecturing with a chalkboard,” said Sara Wilkins, assistant professor of Biology.

Michael Ximenez, the undergraduate Advising Center director, said the STEM Program seeks to "boost the graduation rates and increase student successes [by providing] detailed advising and creating a rich learning environment.”

Often these STEM fields are having to go outward to qualified individuals. Employers must import talent from abroad, thus creating less employment for the local community.

Palo Alto College hopes to increase these majors with the introduction of the STEM Center, located in the Palomino Center, and with investment in future professionals who could potentially help the economy grow and keep jobs local.

“Some students believe science [technology, engineering] and math to be intimidating and opt for other majors…I want for one, to make the community aware of STEM majors; two, to bring them in here; three, to connect; and four, to get them to graduate and complete their student goals,” said Ximenez.

The STEM Program offers financial aid opportunities through scholarships that have proven success.

Analee Mattice, a Texas A&M Science major, is one of many Palo Alto College graduates who have been able to benefit and change their lives thanks to help from STEM.

Mattice began her studies at Palo Alto College as a Nursing major, a degree that was affordable and accessible.

"Love for school, love for science, and love for learning more" drove Mattice to apply for the STEM scholarship. “The main thing that stood out for me was that they were looking for minorities in the STEM fields,” she said.

Mattice received news of her award through Wilkins and described the moment as one filled with tears. It was "life changing," she said. It allowed her to aspire for more education at a top-rate university.

Mattice was one of seven students in her cohort to receive a $10,000 scholarship. As a result, Mattice has completed a bachelor's and has begun working toward a master’s in Business Administration at Texas A&M University in San Antonio as well as a master's in Clinical Laboratory Sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

"Do it! Don't doubt and think I'm not going to get it. Don't be lazy! One paper is all it takes,” said Mattice. “If you can say it, you can write it…Don't be closed minded. Don't be afraid to look outside the box. It makes you feel very good."