Nassau Community College and Hofstra University have received a $5 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation. The principal investigators and co-leaders of the program are Prof. Jacqueline Lee of the Biology Department at NCC and Prof. Jessica Santangelo of the Biology Department at Hofstra University. The focus of the grant is to create a support program for excellent students in STEM disciplines who come from underserved communities and are facing financial need. Over the course of the grant, 90 students, who begin their college education at NCC and graduate with a bachelor’s from Hofstra, will be supported with financial aid (including a two-year scholarship to attend NCC and $10,000 a year at Hofstra), but also with the emotional and social support of faculty advisement, mentoring from faculty as well as other students, research opportunities, and networking opportunities. For example, at NCC, students will receive a stipend to work in NCC labs over the summer so that they will have the time to do so, and not have to hold down a paying job.
Santangelo and Lee’s faculty team consists of 13 professors, from both colleges, teaching biology, chemistry, engineering, and education. NCC has an excellent record for student retention, and this program provides resources to implement practices that have been proven to work. Both NCC and Hofstra University are also part of the (STEM)² Network of local colleges founded in 2020 (also including St. John’s University, Adelphi University, Queensborough Community College, Suffolk Community College, and CUNY Queens College), to transform teaching of sciences and math and make research opportunities more available for students in STEM disciplines (biology, chemistry, computer science, geology, environment and sustainability). This NSF grant is a wonderful opportunity to make sure that hard-working, ambitious, low-income students in Nassau have the financial means to pursue an educational pathway to in-demand STEM jobs, and the academic, social and emotional supports that have been proven to help students stay the course and achieve greater academic success.
Hopefully, NCC will begin to promote our Biology Department and its excellent faculty so we can begin to grow the department again.