STEM mentors wanted

Elena Beltran, Title V grant director at Glendale Community College, explains the federal program and the need for community involvement to expand the STEM (Science, Technology, English and Math) program at the college.

Title V of the Higher Education Act (HEA) is a federally funded grant program, created in 1998 to assist certain colleges and universities in improving the higher education of Hispanic students in the United States.

Elena Beltran is the Title V grant director at Glendale Community College. She has been employed at GCC for 10 years. She and her staff offer assistance to students in need of financial aid and tutoring services.

Beltran obtained her bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University and her master’s at the Northern Arizona University extended campus.

Beltran spoke to Glendale Rotary Club Aug. 9 about the Title V program at GCC and the population it serves. She said in the fall 2017, 816 Hispanic students were enrolled in the STEM program at GCC. STEM stands for Science, Technology, English and Math. At the same time, 914 Caucasian students were enrolled in the STEM program, Beltran said.

Of the 816 enrolled Hispanics, 667 stayed in the program. To retain more students for a second year, GCC has implemented the STEM-Connect program, which is designed to connect students to the campus and keep them engaged in their studies at GCC. In 2017, Beltran said enrollment was 14,000 and 2,000 students utilized the tutoring services at GCC. At the college, students can take advantage of open computers and open tables for study purposes. Tutoring is offered 24 hours a day online for STEM students.

Beltran said three success student coaches serve as advisers and spend an hour with each student. She said they encourage students to feel as if they actually belong, with the goal being to keep students on campus.

Students who receive Title V grants sign contracts — although not mandatory — wherein they agree to see an adviser at least twice a year.

This year, Beltran said, enrollment is reaching toward 19,000 for campus and online classes. The college is looking for professionals in career fields specific to the STEM study program to answer student questions about their careers.

For example, she asked, “What does it mean to be an electrical engineer?”

At the far horizon, Beltran said, the college is looking at creating a maker space, an area in the Valley for 3D students to “fabricate, facilitate, dream and design.”

She said the space needs to be relevant, where students can create and build from the ground up. It could cost upwards of $1 million, so, Beltran said, the college is looking to the community for partnerships.

At GCC, online classes are less costly than on-campus classes. Beltran said 47 percent of students enroll for a second year and the main reason students don’t attend a second year is finances. She said government financial aid is limited to six years from the time a student is first enrolled.

To learn more about the Title V program at GCC, call Beltran at 623-845-3673.