MARIETTA— Washington State Community College received more than $500,000 for the Choose Ohio First (COF) grant. The funds will aid the institution’s efforts to support students in STEM-related academic fields by providing scholarships as well as connecting them to work-based learning experiences and careers.
STEM-related careers are in-demand professions in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Skills related to these areas of specialization are highly sought by employers and are avenues to careers such as nursing, video game designers, electrical engineers, computer programmers, chemists, and actuaries, to name just a few.
COF is part of the $200 million the DeWine-Husted administration committed to strengthening STEM education across the state to meet the demands of Ohio’s employers. The $500K received by WSCC will be distributed over the coming five years and provide aid to students enrolled in any of the institution’s 23 STEM degree and certificate programs.
“We are grateful to the Ohio Department of Higher Education and Chancellor Gardner and their support of Washington State receiving this award,” said WSCC President Dr. Vicky Wood. “STEM-related careers have long been an economic driver in the southeast Ohio region and Washington State has been able to offer programs in these fields to help meet the demands of the local workforce.
She acknowledged that industry partnerships have proven invaluable to students and will be strengthened because of the COF grant. “These partnerships create incredible opportunities for our students and result in graduates employed in careers where they make a family-sustaining wage with benefits.”
Wood added that the COF scholarships will, “change lives, provide business and industry a quality workforce, and have a positive impact on the local economy.”
WSCC’s Vice President of Student Affairs David Hermann explained that as employment opportunities emerge, the economic sectors in Ohio’s southeast region grow and change. These opportunities, however, put new demands on local workers’ skills and knowledge. For students to take advantage of new employment opportunities, they require career-specific education and skills training that can help them succeed both in the classroom and in their pursuit of employment.
“For several years, WSCC has been focused on supporting our students holistically and we recognize how their lives outside of the classroom impact their academic performance. COF allows us to add another crucial layer to that strategy because it includes work-based learning,” Hermann said.
He went on to describe the grant as a win, not only for students but local employers. He said that in addition to the classroom, these students will have the advantage of work-based learning from employers directly related to their field and our local businesses benefit because they can fill their workforce needs with students who, ideally will continue to work for them upon graduation.
“The Choose Ohio First program has significantly strengthened Ohio’s competitiveness within STEM disciplines, and our campuses, including Washington State Community College, have done an excellent job of preparing their STEM scholars for success,” said Chancellor Randy Gardner. “I applaud Washington State Community College for being among this latest group of awardees.”
Washington State Community College is currently enrolling for the spring semester and accepting applications for many of its 2024 health program cohorts. To apply visit wscc.edu/apply or call Admissions at 740.568.1900.