NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — For the third year, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is hosting its “413 STEM Ready Academy,” from Monday, Aug. 1, to Friday, Aug. 5. The intensive, summer residency program gives students at the region’s community colleges insight into what it is like to attend a four-year institution, and encourages them to earn a bachelor’s degree.

The 21 students who will participate – six from Berkshire Community College, seven from Greenfield Community College, and eight from Holyoke Community College – intend to major in fields that include biochemistry, biology, biological science, biotechnology, computer science, environmental science, mathematics, nursing and wildlife ecology/conservation.

According to Jennifer Swoap, co-coordinator of the 413 STEM Academy, the program offers participants an opportunity to experience different components of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

“Our western Massachusetts colleges collaborate to give 413 STEM Academy participants a residential college experience and the opportunity try a variety of STEM labs and cutting-edge equipment as part of a cohort of like-minded STEM students,” Swoap said.

“The participants also see real-world applications firsthand, and talk in depth with STEM professionals,” she continued. “By bringing all these pieces together, an incredible amount of support and interest is generated. STEM fields have a lot to offer as a career choice, and we want to provide these students with information and experiences that will inform and encourage them to continue their studies at a four-year institution.”

Activities for the participants will focus on preparation for success in completing a bachelor’s degree in one of the STEM fields. The program also will include career exploration, building leadership and resume skills, as well as college and career planning through workshops, presentations and field trips as they meet with STEM professionals from throughout the Berkshires.

Swoap, assistant director of the Center for Learning in Actions at Williams College, is co-coordinating the Academy with Grant Administrator Mary Nash, a program development and evaluation consultant for MCLA.

Swoap and Nash are joined by 413 STEM Fellows Francis LaFlamme, a graduate of Holyoke Community College and a math major at Westfield State University; Fiona Lowry ’16 of Sunderland, a student at Greenfield Community College who will attend UMASS-Amherst this fall to study veterinary science; Sabrina Superneau-Gilman ’18 of Adams, who is majoring in biology and allied health at MCLA; and Jordan Vanuni ’18 of North Adams, who is majoring in biology and environmental studies at MCLA.

Participating MCLA professors include Dr. Mike Dalton (computer science), Dr. Robert Harris (chemistry), Dr. Daniel Shustack (environmental science) and Dr. Kebra Ward (physics).

In addition, participants will visit two high-powered microscopes at Williams College – the Scanning Electron Microscope and the Light Emitting Microscope. Groups will be led by Janice Bravo and Nancy Piatczyc. Students also will participate in two new field trips this year – to Apex Resource Technologies and the Berkshire Medical Center’s Simulation Lab, both in Pittsfield.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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