CWU News

CWU, Big Bend CC Awarded $50,000 to Help Attract More Low-Income STEM Transfer Students

CWU Geology students work with Professor Anne Egger

Faculty and staff from CWU and Big Bend Community College will be teaming up to help develop more four-year degree pathways for transfer students as part of a statewide effort.

A team of faculty and staff from Central Washington University and Big Bend Community College has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Community College Research Initiatives (CCRI) program, which is specifically aimed at science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.

The initiative is intended to help low-income STEM transfer students around the state earn four-year degrees. CWU and Big Bend will each receive $25,000 as they look at strategies to increase the number of low-income community college students in Washington who choose to continue their educations at four-year institutions.

The CWU-Big Bend partnership is one of 10 teams statewide that will work with one another over the next three years to find new ways to encourage more students from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue STEM degrees. 

“The 10 research teams around the state will be looking at what makes four-year degree pathways successful for low-income STEM transfer students,” said Chemistry Department Chair Dion Rivera, who is spearheading CWU’s team along with Geological Sciences Professor Anne Egger and Transfer Center Director Megan McConnell.

CWU chemistry students work in the lab“This grant will allow CWU to be at the table in determining what the best practices are — and will be — in our state,” he added. “We hope that by the end of this process, we can disseminate the information we have gained to our own departments and the STEM field, as well as university-wide, to increase the number of successful outcomes for transfer students.”

Egger noted that one key issue the CWU-Big Bend team will examine is the barriers that transfer students experience when deciding whether to continue their education at a four-year institution.

With a university center in Moses Lake and a proven Direct Transfer Agreement program with many community colleges around the state, Egger and her colleagues often wonder why Central doesn’t see more transfer students from Big Bend, which is home to the CWU-Moses Lake university center.

“We are excited to delve into the data and hold focus groups so we can understand better how to help transfer students make the transition,” she said. “We also look forward to being part of a larger group so we can learn from each other, and then help with other partnerships across the state. 

“This work will help us look at things more holistically than locally,” she added, “and our hope is that will help us bring more STEM students to Central.”

The CWU and Big Bend teams will officially begin their work this spring, after each of the 10 CCRI teams gathers virtually for a kickoff meeting in mid-April.

Media contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1518.