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Brescia Receives $30,000 Grant for STEM Program

2015 award luncheon photo

Brescia University has been awarded a $30,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation to fund a STEM mentoring program for ninth-grade female students with an interest in seeking a STEM-related college education and/or career upon graduation from high school. The grant will be distributed in the amount of $15,000 over the course of two years.

The Alcoa Foundation creates strategic investments that are focused on achieving measureable, long-term results in communities where Alcoa operates. The funds are separate from Alcoa Inc., which does not provide funding to the Foundation.

Sustainability is an integral part of the culture at Alcoa and the Foundation’s investments place an emphasis on economic success, environmental excellence and social responsibility. This year, they sought to support improvements in education and protecting the environments.

“The grants from the Alcoa Foundation are not donations – they are investments because they will bring results to help the community advance,” said Jeff Boris, Location Manager for Alcoa Global Packaging.

“We are grateful to the Alcoa Foundation for their investment in education and are honored to be the recipient of this grant,” stated Father Larry Hostetter, President of Brescia University. “This grant will support an innovative program here at Brescia that will not only educate female students on STEM programs but will empower them to make a difference in the STEM field by pursuing a related career. With the need for STEM professionals on the rise, we are confident that this program will not only benefit local students, but we also hope to impact the field of STEM in a positive way. “

The project that will be supported by the grant will consist of a five-day summer institute for 48 female students enrolled in Daviess county-area high schools and will take place on Brescia University’s campus. The focus will be on STEM concepts and careers with the overall goal of encouraging participants to attend college and seek out STEM fields.

The program will also include mentoring sessions on a monthly basis during the academic year to provide one-on-one tutoring opportunities, as well as education activities and seminars related to STEM concepts. Participants will be matched with a Brescia University student who is enrolled in a STEM major to support them throughout the academic year.

To encourage enrollment, the program will offer incentives for each year of the program that the student completes. Dr. Janett Williams, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Brescia University, will be leading efforts for the program.

Dr. Williams has her Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Southern Queensland based in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. She also holds a Master of Arts with an emphasis in Missiology from the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology and a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of the West Indies. She began as an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Brescia in 2014, after serving as a Lecturer at the University of Technology in Jamaica. She has work published in international journals including the Journal of Computer Science and Network Security, the American Journal of Applied Science, the International Journal of Biometric and Bioinformatics and the Canadian Journal on Biomedical Engineering.

Alongside the mentoring aspect, the program will also offer an annual symposium for area educators to learn best practices in educating and encouraging female students in STEM fields.

This program was built in response to effort by the White House at the state and local levels over the past decade to get more females involved in STEM education and careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that by 2022, there will be more than 9 million STEM job openings and the United States is not projected to graduate enough STEM professionals to meet this demand. This program hopes to encourage female students in the area to pursue a degree or career in this area to fill that need.

“We’re always excited about the investments that Warrick Operations is able to make through the Alcoa Foundation,” said Alexander Alford, the Location Manager for the Warrick Primary Metals division at Warrick Operations. “The organizations receiving grants have demonstrated how to measure for success. They have high credibility and organizational structures that allow them to thrive.”