USC Salkehatchie’s STEM program provides opportunities and financial incentives

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PRESS RELEASE - USC Salkehatchie’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program is providing a new wave of growth and creativity for those ready to pursue a STEM career. One new, innovative program is the STEM Careers 101 class offered for the first time over the summer.

Seventeen students from Allendale, Barnwell, Colleton and Hampton counties completed the first-of-its-kind elective course created and led by USC Salkehatchie’s STEM Coordinator Holly McCrary as part of the WORC grant programs. The class explored a broad range of STEM skills including computer programming, chemistry, biology, mathematical functions in cybersecurity, and environmental awareness. Students also explored non-technical skills including research, planning, resume development, interviewing and self-advocacy, while gaining insights into regional STEM careers, employer expectations and next steps for furthering their education and training. The grant and its programs are made possible by a partnership with the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization and the Department of Energy.

“Often, students don’t realize the many STEM opportunities available at USC Salkehatchie,” McCrary said. “The partnerships and resources we have are unique and, frankly, not common at other institutions. Our students receive individualized attention. Those who are eligible can earn credit hours while participating in paid internships during their freshman and sophomore years. Additionally, funding is available for students to conduct STEM research for publication. Typically, these opportunities are not available to students until their junior or senior years.”

After completing the course and a STEM program internship with Dr. Eran Kilpatrick in the USC Salkehatchie Herbarium, sophomore Zachery Wilson decided to transfer from the University of South Carolina Columbia campus to USC Salkehatchie because of his experience with the program and its incentives.

“I love the smaller class sizes, individualized attention, and the fact I receive the same level of instruction in my courses as I did on the Columbia campus,” Wilson said. “Participating in my internship put me ahead of where I would be for employability purposes. I have gained valuable hands-on experiences and have already been promoted to lab manager as a sophomore, which would have been highly improbable at other campuses. My advisor, Mrs. McCrary, has been invaluable in advising me academically and keeping me informed of specific financial, experiential and internship opportunities only available to students involved with the USC Salkehatchie WORC grants.”

Wilson is taking advantage of the many opportunities USC Salkehatchie STEM students have. Scholarships of $5,000 combined with LIFE or Palmetto Fellow scholarships leave no out-of-pocket tuition for students to pay. Additional internships, ambassadorships, tutoring positions and research opportunities not only provide valuable experiences, but also generate overage funds that can be used at the discretion of the student.

“Students who qualify and take advantage of STEM financial incentives can receive up to $20,000 if they participate in all our initiatives. Salkehatchie’s tuition is only around $7,500 annually,” McCrary said.

Wilson said he is saving his overage for completion of his degree at USC Aiken.

USC Salkehatchie’s STEM program also emphasizes career exploration. In conjunction with the 2021 National Nuclear Science Week recognized Oct. 18-21, all USC Salkehatchie students were able to participate in Career Week. Students had the opportunity to interact with alumni during a virtual interview, industry professionals during two panel discussions, and attend seminars on resume writing and employability skills. The week culminated with a career fair which connected students with regional employers and provided opportunities for current students to interact with experts from a variety of fields.

Students can complete the first 2 years of many STEM majors at USC Salkehatchie including industrial process engineering, biology, chemistry and mathematics. Students can also complete an online degree in Applied Computer Science with emphasis in Cybersecurity through Palmetto College.

For more information on the USC Salkehatchie STEM program or STEM scholarships, contact Holly McCrary at mccraryh@mailbox.sc.edu or visit uscsalkehatchie.sc.edu.

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