For the second year in a row California’s Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program has been singled out as one of the nation’s best in preparing educationally disadvantaged K-12 students for college.
The program’s objective is to motivate these students in particular to pursue STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) careers. That is precisely what the MESA center at Sacramento State has been doing for the past four years, in conjunction with UC Davis.
The Academic Resource Center (ARC) in Santa Clara Hall serves nearly 2,000 students in 60 schools throughout the six-county region. It provides a wide range of assistance, including study skills, prepping them for enrollment in challenging courses, standardized-test preparation, guest speakers, field trips and other activities to motivate them to excel in the classroom.
Equipped with “top of the line” technology funded by the Intel Corporation, the ARC is available for research, classroom support, college and scholarship applications and completion of advanced coursework. It also offers an extensive collection of reference materials. Many of the items may be checked out by parents and teachers. “The center,” director Jean Crowder says, “is so popular with students that we have trouble getting them to leave by closing time at 10 p.m.”
As the nation’s largest MESA program, it offers students numerous opportunities. They attend faculty presentations at the center and vie in various competitions. In January Sacramento State will host the nation’s sole annual MESA K-12 math competition. Student s in grades 6-10 may take the California High School Exit Exam in preparation for the mandatory statewide exam for high school graduates. This spring the campus will host a K-6 competition in math, science engineering and technology. Last year’s events included bridge building, engine fired and bottle-rocket construction.
Sacramento State faculty and students have connected with these students in several capacities, be it advising, tutoring or simply speaking with them. This underscores the University’s commitment to remain an integral part of the community it serves.
Crowder is justifiably proud of the program’s effect on minority and female students who might not have graduated high school, let alone gone to college and earned degrees in fields in which they have been underrepresented for decades.
The campus program dovetails with Sacramento State’s Center for STEM Excellence, which is looking to attract more young students to the sciences, give them a rigorous education and place them in the job market.
Sacramento State and UC Davis have been involved with MESA from its inception 40 years ago, when it was housed in an office building east of campus. Moving it onto campus made sense, Crowder says, because students get a better feel for the college experience.
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