Following successful implementation of the Health Sciences & Technology Academy throughout the Mountain State, West Virginia University’s innovative mentoring program is set to provide opportunities for students in a second state university system beginning this summer.
A $1.2 million Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health has enabled The University of Alabama to create the first full-scale HSTA-based program outside West Virginia with support from WV HSTA, the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and Apis Creative, a replication incubator.
Led by the University of Alabama’s Capstone College of Nursing, the Health Sciences & Technology Academy – Alabama (HSTA-AL) will build an academic pipeline for underrepresented students to the field of nursing. The effort is expected to reap major benefits, not just for participating students, but also for the health and well-being of their hometown communities.
HSTA-AL kicked off this month beginning as a pilot program in Hale and Pickens counties. The first round of selected students is invited to attend a residential summer camp where they will learn about science while building a network of peers and mentors. At the camp, students work alongside college faculty, HSTA-AL teachers and college-student mentors as they explore health-related topics, learn about career opportunities and gain skills that prepare them to conduct community-based research projects.
“It shines a positive light on West Virginia,” HSTA director Cathy Morton said of its replication. “And it shows how important HSTA is — to kids in Alabama and here at home.”
The mentoring program, developed through WVU Health Sciences more than 25 years ago, supports high school students who face social and financial challenges and connects them to STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Of the young people who have graduated from HSTA in West Virginia, 99% have gone on to college, 87% have obtained or are currently working toward a college degree and 86% continue to live and work in the state.
“In tracking our students and their successes, we realized that the majority of students gave back to their home state,” former HSTA director Ann Chester said. “This exceeded our expectations, because participants are not required to work in West Virginia (or Alabama) after HSTA. We find that students learn there is a place for everybody in the health sciences, and they bring those skills back to their hometowns.”
Chester has provided training and consulting services along with Apis Creative’s HSTA Hatch division under the guidance of Apis president Bethany Hornbeck. Alan McKendall, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering in the Statler College, will lead the research and evaluation portion of the project. He will be assisted by Sherron McKendall, WV HSTA director of evaluation and research.
Apis’ HSTA Hatch division was established to support replication of the HSTA program through partnerships with universities and local and national youth development programs. HSTA Hatch is seeking additional partners with which to pursue SEPA and other grant and foundational funding.
Photo: During its first summer program, high school students participating in the Health Sciences & Technology Academy – Alabama had the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning experiences, including a visit to a nursing simulation lab, and build a network of peers and mentors.
CONTACT: Jessica Wilmoth
Senior Communications Specialist
WVU Health Sciences
Associate Dean for Research
The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing
205-348-8452; 336-207-7774; firstname.lastname@example.org