On Wednesday, 24 students signed on as the second group to join to the STEM&M program, a partnership between Mazama High School and Oregon Tech.
STEM&M is a unique program guiding Mazama High School students through pathways leading directly to academic programs at Oregon Tech. The collaboration focuses on dual credit courses that offer college credits, student and faculty visits, mentoring opportunities, and information sharing to benefit students.
Last year 66 students started in the new program which encourages closer institutional ties between the schools and develops beneficial scholarships for students. STEM&M focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, with the added “M” for Medical pathways.
Of the 66 students who started in last year’s group, only 6 are no longer participating due to factors such as family relocation. This year 48 students applied, and 24 of them qualified to join based on their student essay, teacher recommendation and GPA.
Laura Nickerson, science teacher and STEM&M director at Mazama, welcomed the students by sharing, “For you to be sitting in these seats, you have truly earned it.”
“This is very special,” Mazama Vice Principal Randy Rose told the students. “You guys are a select few. You guys are standouts.”
At the official signing ceremony on Wednesday, the students put pen to paper on a contract to join STEM&M and donned Oregon Tech hats in front of parents, school officials, Oregon Tech representatives and media.
“It was fantastic,” said Cooper Hamilton, 15. “It was a great feeling.”
Students agreeing to participate in this opportunity are held to a high standard. They are committing to a GPA of 3.0 or better, taking streamlined electives, and engaging in extra-curricular activities that demonstrate the different pathways available to them, and engaging in volunteer work.
Mazama Principal Steve Morosin has been there the last two years to shake hands with the students and welcome them into STEM&M. “These students really take it seriously and are striving to do more,” he said. “This program puts a focus on the next steps to take out of high school and allows them to see opportunities to do more with their future.”
“It felt amazing,” Grace Spoon, 14, said of the signing ceremony. “It was super cool and I’m super proud of myself and the work I’ve put in. It’s really paid off.”
Grace’s mom, Rachael Spoon, said it was exciting to see her daughter sign. “Proud and excited,” she said, describing her feelings. “To see her have such a good step up to achieving her dreams. It’s a big deal.”
Students participating in the program will also have preferential access to specific Oregon Tech programs and STEM&M graduates who choose Oregon Tech for their college will each receive scholarships:
- OWL scholarship: $1,500 freshmen year
- Oregon Tech’s presidential scholarship: $2,000 renewable each year
These amounts total $9,500 in scholarships for attendance at Oregon Tech, helping with student and family affordability.
“The partnership with a regional college and how much they have been willing to support and put into this program has been amazing,” said Jeff Bullock, secondary curriculum director for the Klamath County School District. “I think it’s unique in our state. A four-year college saying we’re going to support this program you’ve created with dual credit, with opportunities on our campus, with access to our labs, with access to guest speakers.”
Both Grace and Cooper are interested in the medical field, and look to Oregon Tech to get them there. They anticipate earning the scholarships when they graduate from high school in 2020.
“I wanted to join because I think it’s a really great opportunity,” said Grace. “I think it’s just too good of an opportunity to pass up - $9,000 is a lot of money. It’d be awesome.”
“We need the money, and I’ve always been blessed academically,” Cooper said of his reason to join STEM&M. “I wanted to join a program that would make me work harder and become a smarter, better person.”
This year’s group splits precisely in half with a diverse group of 12 females and 12 males. Of the students who signed up this year, 9 are interested in Technology/Engineering and 14 are interested in Medical pathways.
“The number of females interested in this opportunity is impressive,” said Klamath County School District Superintendent Greg Thede. “There’s been such an outreach for more females in STEM that it’s great we have a half and half representation.”
For more information, contact Marla Edge, Director of Academic Agreements, at 541.885.1034 or firstname.lastname@example.org