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RCCC, Catawba collaborate on STEM internships

Twelve Rowan-Cabarrus Community College students have applied and been accepted as the first cohort of Noyce Summer Interns. Funds from a $1.45 million National Science Foundation grant provide monies to pay the tuition for these students to take a three-credit-hour online education course through Catawba College and to allow each of them a paid summer internship in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) occupation.
The students and their summer internship assignments include:
• Kettyl Amoakon of Concord, Discovery Place in Charlotte,
• Jasmin Jimenez of Concord, Discovery Place in Huntersville,
• Cody Braden and Chingtsing Yang, both of Concord, Payden Mitchell of Salisbury and Joshua York of Wellsville, N.Y., Horizons Unlimited in Salisbury;
• Leslie Anne Brown of Salisbury and Alex Lopez-Guitierrez of Kannapolis, Catawba College’s Center for the Environment;
• Chris Lopez of Harrisburg, Julius Verrett of Concord and Daverian “Tre” Williams of Rowan County, Rowan Cooperative Extension Office;
• Thepphaphone Saysombath of Salisbury, RCCC teaching at summer camps.
These students gathered for an orientation session on May 16 in Catawba’s Center for the Environment. That session was led by their online course instructor, Dr. Cyndi Osterhus, a retiring associate professor of teacher education and director of the Ritchie Academy for Teaching at Catawba. Their summer online class, EDUC 2000: Introduction to Teaching and Educational Technology, begins June 10 and will run for three weeks. Each student must also complete 175-200 hours of service during their summer internship.
In October, Catawba College received a $1.45 million grant from the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program of the National Science Foundation that will provide five years of support for scholarships and internships that help prepare STEM majors for teaching careers. It is the largest grant of this type that Catawba has ever received.
The Catawba College Noyce Scholars project brings together Catawba with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and the Rowan-Salisbury Schools to focus on the recruitment, preparation and retention of STEM majors in teaching careers. The project has three phases: exploratory internships, scholarships and collegial support networks. It will prepare STEM educators in a broad range of disciplines (biology, chemistry, environmental science or mathematics) who are capable of teaching at a variety of grade levels.
The 12 aforementioned RCCC students are entering the exploratory internship component of the project. It will ultimately provide paid internships for up to 60 freshman and sophomore students at RCCC to experience teaching and to recruit them to pursue a career in K-12 education. Eighteen upperclassmen who pursue a major in a STEM discipline and licensure in teaching at Catawba College will receive $18,000 scholarships in their junior and senior years of college.
Following graduation, these Noyce Scholars will be required to work for four years in a high-need school district as a condition of receiving the scholarship. During this time, they will receive funds to attend a state STEM education conference and to purchase classroom supplies.
The NSF grant is directed by Dr. Connie Rogers-Lowery, associate professor and chair of biology at Catawba. Others on the faculty team who collaborated on the grant proposal include, from Catawba, Osterhus and Dr. John Zerger, professor of mathematics; and from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Dr. Marcy Corjay, dean of science, biotechnology, mathematics and information technologies.
The grant period began Oct. 1, 2012, and expires Sept. 30, 2017.

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