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New UA program aim towards helping veterans in STEM

Posted at 6:31 AM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 20:50:12-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona's STEM program and veterans center have collaborated to help veterans find their place in the STEM field with a new program: Veterans in Arizona Science Engineering and Math (ASEMS-V).

"It will provide a support community for students, integrating them in the STEM culture, introducing them to what it takes to prosper in STEM," Interim Director of Stem learning center who oversees ASEMS programs Kimberly Sierra-Cajas said.

This program will give veterans complete, hands-on experience in STEM before they graduate.

"It fully immerses veterans into the STEM field. It fully immerses them into the labs, which allows from the beginning of their careers to get that hands on experience," Assistant Dean of Students in the Military Cody Nicholls said. "To allow them to accept that process to build that sense of confidence like yes I can do the STEM career."

Each veteran in the program will be placed with a mentor in both the veterans center and STEM program. This will expose them to research positions, as well as how to reach their goal sin the STEM field.

"One thing that happens with students that are entering in non-traditional backgrounds is that sometimes students have a sense of worry that they don't belong here," Sierra-Cajas said.

Mauricio Serna, a senior at the University of Arizona is one of the ASEMS programs felt that worry when he first transferred three years from Pima Community College. He said he owes a big part of his success at the University to this program.

"You're going to be surrounded by people who understand the struggles that you went through like no other person, so you're going to be able to have that sense of familiarity and comfort, so I feel like that's essential in being successful in school," Serna said.

The hope is to get more veterans to graduate successfully in STEM.

"Often times you hear in the news that the retention rate of students in the STEM field, in general, is lower than we'd like them to be and that's also so true with our veterans, so we want our veterans to be able to realize that this is something that's very attainable," Nicholls said.

The only requirements to apply is being a veterans interested in pursing a career in the STEM field. Click here to apply.