Winthrop University: STEM Scholars Get an Early Start With Summer Classes
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STEM Scholars Get an Early Start With Summer Classes

August 05, 2022

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The goal of the Eagle STEM program is to help prepare students, who are underrepresented in STEM, to matriculate into STEM master’s and Ph.D. programs. 
  • The Eagle STEM Scholars program started at Winthrop in 2011 and has sponsored eight summer programs.  

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University’s summer Eagle STEM program wrapped up recently after 14 incoming freshmen received an early taste of college by taking classes and attending labs.

The students applied to join the program during the fall of their senior year of high school and then spent six weeks in June and July living on campus in the Courtyard. The goal of the Eagle STEM program is to help prepare students, who are underrepresented in STEM, to matriculate into STEM master’s and Ph.D. programs. 

The beauty of the initiative, said Eagle STEM Director Amanda Cavin ’15, ’17, is that students stay in the residence halls together and take the same math and science classes. “They built relationships that encouraged and motivated them to do well,” she said. “Additionally, the program employs three peer mentors who guide and assist them through the program. These students are Eagle STEM upperclassmen who have done the Summer Bridge program themselves.”

The STEM scholars had long days. The first class, a two-hour math class, started at 9:30 a.m., followed by lunch, chemistry laboratory time, a two-hour chemistry class, dinner, group study time until 9:30 p.m. and then individual study time. 

Incoming freshman Abby Bowers, from Charleston, South Carolina, said she liked working in group settings and getting some of her classes out of the way. “I also wanted to get to know some students here before I started in the fall,” she added.

Cavin affectionately refers to Summer Bridge as a time for students to “practice college” before they get here. “In the three years I have been here, I have never had a student tell me they wish they had not done Summer Bridge,” Cavin said. “They are appreciative of the friendships they made and that they have a support system in place from the moment they step onto campus.”

The math and chemistry classes also were good refreshers for students who don’t think they have a strong foundation in the subject areas, said Jacob Rodriguez of Fort Mill, South Carolina. “We have had a lot of interaction with our professors here and worked through problems together rather than being handed the material to learn on our own,” he said.

For Valana Jones of Rock Hill, she wanted to attend the summer program so she wouldn’t feel lost on campus in the fall. She also wanted to learn to be independent as she transitioned to college. 

The Eagle STEM Scholars program started at Winthrop in 2011 and has sponsored eight summer programs.  It is the beginning piece of the program which supports students the entire time they attend Winthrop and are STEM majors. Eagle STEM is funded through a grant from SC INBRE and that grant funded the students’ housing accommodations, meal plans, and tuition. The students paid for class materials.

Three more freshmen will join this group in the fall. Students will continue to be provided financial and academic support, Cavin said. Overall 56 students, consisting of the 17 freshmen and additional upperclassmen who are continuing in the program, will participate in the program this year.

For more information, contact Cavin at cavina@winthrop.edu.

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Last Updated: 8/5/22