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Above, participants of this summer’s STEM Academy get to know one another on Sunday through a bonding exercise.

STEM Fellows help incoming freshmen prepare for fall

08/05/15

The fall semester is a month away from starting, but this week 16 incoming freshmen are attending classes and forming new friendships as they kick off their college careers a little early at the Third Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Academy.

According to Christopher Himes, STEM program manager, the students are discovering what it’s like to major in a STEM field as they become familiar with the college campus and the region.

“The program introduces students to the college experience, which includes working with STEM faculty, team-building and student life, and exposure to a variety of careers and professionals that work in STEM areas.” Himes said.

At the Academy, students work with “STEM Academy Fellows” – current or recently graduated MCLA students who are majoring in STEM fields – on skills they’ll need to be successful; such as time management and organization, as well as ways to help them study and be prepared for classes.

Breana Gladu ’17 of Adams, Mass., attended the very first STEM Academy two years ago. The interdisciplinary studies major – a self-proclaimed “first-generation Stemmie” – is back for a second time to contribute to the program as a STEM Fellow.

“This program was what fully hooked me into exploring the sciences, as well as joining the STEM Academy family and becoming the program coordinator for the after school program, ‘STEM in Action,’” Gladu said.

“Had I not attended the program my freshman year, I wouldn’t be where I am today in my academic studies or my extracurricular activities,” she continued. “I’m proud to say I am a student leader on campus because of STEM Academy and its staff.”

Satchel Lefevre ’18 of Bennington, Vt., participated in STEM Academy last summer. A math major, he went on to become president of MCLA’s Mathematics Society as a freshman last year.

“I am very excited to see the incoming participants have the same wonderful experience I had; meeting faculty, learning the campus, making friends, and getting a feeling for some of the science classes offered,” Lefebvre said.

New to the Academy this year, Kayla LaVoice ’18, a double major in math and English from Springfield, Mass., decided to become a STEM Fellow to help freshman adjust to life at college.

“I really like the idea of acclimating students in a way that incorporates academic life, as well as the MCLA community,” LaVoice said.

“We always have a great line up of labs and activities for the freshman to not only learn from, but bond over as a group,” Gladu added.

In addition to helping boost students’ academic skills, STEM Academy helps the freshmen to form connections with faculty and staff, as well as friendships with like-minded students who can provide peer support in the years to come as they live and study together.

Lefevre said he’s “incredibly grateful” for the STEM Academy experience he had as a freshman.

“Getting to know the campus and meet fellow members of my class helped me feel much more confident going into my first semester,” he explained. “I also made some of my best friends at MCLA through the STEM Academy.”

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