|NSF is 'Growing Pathways to STEM': expanding opportunities for rural community college students|
|Lauren Gillespie1, Steve Heinisch1, Neil Grandgenett2. 1Central Community College, Columbus, Nebraska, United States; 2University of Nebraska Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, United States
Best known for production of degrees in career/technical areas, community colleges play integral roles in pipelines of biomedical occupations. Here, we describe a National Science Foundation funded scholarship program bridging established gaps to low-income, high-achieving student success while investigating outcomes of relationships between student-cohorts, mentors, and local industries. Central Community College-Columbus is one of select community colleges to be awarded in the NSF S-STEM funding initiative, and this is partly due to college-industry-community partnerships, and an established internal funding program. ‘Project GPS’ (Growing Pathways to STEM) provides avenues for 1st and 2nd year students to develop applied, critical thinking skills, foster resilience, and utilize teamwork and creativity through 1) exposure to empirical research, 2) multi-institution, interdisciplinary collaboration, 3) exposure/access to professional development and paid internships, and 4) a wholistic-mentoring perspective tailored to unique realities community college students face to examine barriers to STEM success relatively independent of financial burdens and academic prowess.