Education - Page 9 - Success, from page 1

- Page 9
Success, from page 1
enhance opportunities for current students and alumni to connect.“We thought it would be good to meet professionals on a more casual basis, so we created Bowling with Professionals.” The overarching goal of all these efforts, she says, is to get a job at the end.

For Johns Hopkins University graduate Shania Johnson, becoming a nurse has long been her goal. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, Johnson investigated the nursing program at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. A Baltimore Polytechnic graduate, Johnson learned her Baltimore pedigree carried weight. She was eligible for a full-tuition scholarship via the Baltimore Talent Scholars Program for Baltimore City public high school graduates admitted to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Entry into Nursing program at the university.

“I applied to the program, completed my essay, talked about my desire to give back to Baltimore and I was accepted,” she says. One month into the program, she’s finding her biology background an asset. “Our cohort model allows us to help each other. I can help people with the biology and others can help with their strengths.”

The career forecast for nurses is bright. Nursing is considered among the top occupations in terms of job growth reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Employment Projections 2014-2024. While the nursing workforce is expected to grow by 16 percent by 2024, the Bureau projects 1.09 million job openings by 2024. At the same time, the nursing profession is requiring advanced degrees beyond the bachelor’s degree, says Cathy Wilson, director of admissions, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. The scholarship program is designed to attract people who have had an interest in nursing but didn’t pursue it earlier. The full-time five-semester MSN Entry into Nursing program prepares students to take the nursing licensure examination. There are 150 people in the program.

“Our students have a science background or may be career-changers, such as teachers. All are passionate about the field,” says Wilson. Scholarship recipients must be Baltimore City high school graduates, completed a degree in a non-nursing area, have at 3.0 or better undergraduate GPA and be admitted to the program.

The scholarship program fits into nursing’s future direction of requiring advanced degrees and addresses the nursing shortage, she says.While there is no current requirement for students to remain in Baltimore after completing their degree, student connections to Baltimore may help. “Our goal is to give back to Baltimore with this scholarship programand encourage local students to stay.” For Johnson,who lives in Northwest Baltimore, the program represents her next step. Ultimately, she says, she would like to complete her doctor of nursing practice and open a clinic in Baltimore. “I don’t plan to leave Baltimore. It’s my home, and I want to help.”

Clearly, before any student completes an undergraduate science, technology or mathematics degree, the student has to pass calculus. Driving calculus success? Algebra 2.

Far too many students find math a barrier to any STEM major, says Michael Venn, assistant dean for mathematics at the Community College of Baltimore County. “We want students to be ready for STEM, especially math, where students tend to fall apart. Math is a barrier to STEM fields because students do not have the math skills needed.”

Venn, professor of mathematics, heads a program called the STEM Core Year, an accelerated math program that helps student master the skills to complete calculus. “We’ve found that Algebra 2 is a key course for success in STEM. Even before college, students may not get the diagnostic math skills needed.”

Through a National Science Foundation grant, the college’s STEM Core Year program combines classroom learning with a dedicated student support specialist who goes to math class with students, offers tutoring and teaches life skills. With groups at the Catonsville and Essex campuses, students benefit from learning together. “Under this program, students form study groups like those in advanced university settings or graduate school. Learning happens naturally,” says Venn.

Students at any math level may participate in the program, he says. “We meet students where they are.” Upon program completion, students vie for paid internships, often through the Fort Meade Alliance, which works with more than 100 government agencies and organizations.

In its second year, the program continues to evolve, he says. Now, students have more opportunity to develop soft skills such as working in teams, making presentations, interviewing and resume writing. Content courses include more group projects as well. “The perfect Stem Course Year student is interested in STEM, motivated and driven,” says Venn. Math is often the only barrier.“We can take care of the rest and help them through calculus.”

Ultimately, these STEM students will help solve problems with science and technology, he says. “These skills will create an economic future for our students.” •

What employers want

Before any of today’s college students start their first jobs, they would do well to take to heart some advice from the National Association of Colleges and Employers in its 2018 Job Outlook survey. Employers marked problem-solving skills and the ability to work on a team as equally important characteristics. Also on the list: written communication skills, leadership and a strong work ethics.

Translated, that means today’s college students need to go far beyond securing top grades. Their to-do list needs to include outside the classroom experiences and development of soft skills. Again, NACE findings back this up. While past surveys pointed to a student’s major as a key factor in employment, today’s employers seek job candidates with internships and other experiences within the industry.

Michael Venn, assistant dean for mathematics and professor of mathematics at the Community College of Baltimore County, agrees. “Our goal is for students to get internships and learn how to become good employees. We also provide the soft skills in teamwork, leadership and public speaking. We know employers want good candidates.”

Of note, according to NACE, the majority of employers use student internship and co-op programs to recruit college graduates for full-time, entry-level positions. •