STEM programming bolstered

Two female students tend to a plant in a garden.
Cougs Rise students participate in a community gardening project.

By Todd Mordhorst, Office of Provost

The Cougs Rise college transition program received an additional $120,000 to support early faculty interaction with incoming first-year students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

Cougs Rise, a student success initiative of the Office of the Provost, provides low-income and first-generation students college preparation programming and mentorship designed to boost their chances of earning a college degree.

In addition, first-year students who are enrolled at WSU for fall semester, take part in a summer bridge program, which helps them build a network of resources, develop a sense of belonging, engage in academic coursework, and take part in other high-impact practices that support long-term success.  The new funding will enhance that effort, with a specific focus on students entering STEM fields.

The program is taking shape for summer 2019 and project director Ray Acuña‑Luna is seeking faculty who are interested in either developing STEM short-courses so students may explore fields of interest, or hosting students in lab, office, or field placements. Cougs Rise has the opportunity to support both faculty and students with this funding.

“Connecting students to research and faculty mentoring has been proven critical for academic engagement and attainment,” Acuña‑Luna says. “Early on access to mentoring and opportunities to engage in high-impact experiences outside the traditional classroom can ensure a well-connected student.”

“This is part of our continuing effort to ensure students have the relationships of a supportive community and the belief in themselves to be academically engaged at WSU,” says Michael Highfill, director of student success initiatives and principal investigator on the project.

Cougs Rise began in 2017 and currently connects students from five Washington high schools with resources and tools designed to ease the transition to college. The program serves students from Bremerton, Hudson’s Bay, Rogers, University, and Wenatchee high schools.

Cougs Rise is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education at $945,465 annually.

Faculty interested in participating in Cougs Rise can contact Ray Acuña‑Luna, 509‑335‑2980,

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