Latino Scientists of Tomorrow summer bridge program paves the way for STEM

The Latino Scientists Summer Bridge Program (LST) at Utah Valley University is now a model for the nation.

The program provides outreach to high school students to promote equity in higher education and create a source of STEM-oriented students to meet labor market needs. Dominion Energy recently announced support for a three-year, $2 million initiative that will see 1,250 students from seven colleges and universities across the country benefit from Summer Bridge programs in their hometowns.

The expansion of the program is a dream come true for Yudi Lewis, UVU program director and director of the university’s Latino Initiative.

“I want to make sure every student has the opportunity and support to achieve their educational dreams of earning a college degree or certificate,” Lewis said.

UVU’s Latino Scientists of Tomorrow summer bridge program has a proven track record of encouraging high school students to go beyond summer school and into college classrooms.

“About 85% of students who complete the LST Summer Bridge program come to UVU for at least one semester after graduating from high school,” said Daniel Horns, Dean of the UVU College of Science and co -Administrator of the LST program. “About 40% of these students are majoring in a STEM field.”

Once at UVU, these students will likely stay. UVU leads the state with the most Latino students enrolled as a four-year institution. The number of graduates has increased by 425% over the past 15 years.

The partnership between Dominion Energy and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), which will administer the national LST pilot program, was formed due to the success of the UVU initiative. HACU has observed the summer program for the past five years. The program serves 50 students from across the state each year. Since its inception, 134 students from 42 Utah high schools have completed the program.

“All students should have access to a quality education and learn the skills to access exciting new career opportunities,” said Carter Reid, executive vice president and chief of staff of Dominion Energy. “This is a step toward improving equity for Hispanic students and increasing diversity in STEM careers.”

Dominion Energy has agreed to provide funding to UVU and other institutions for three years (2022-2024) with the option to request another three-year funding (2025-2027) at the end of 2024.

“Our new partnership with Dominion Energy is a substantial investment in the success of our Hispanic students in the vital field of energy development and services, an undeniable necessity to ensure the prosperity of our nation,” said Antonio R. Flores, President and CEO of HACU. . “We are excited to launch this new initiative across seven higher education institutions to train skilled professionals who can meet the needs of the energy industry.”

The seven schools selected to participate in this program are:

  • George Mason University
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • Sampson Community College
  • University of Connecticut at Stamford
  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke
  • University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
  • Utah Valley University

As a model institution, UVU will help other universities bring their programs online. The Summer Bridge program will be available in other establishments by summer 2022.

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