Inquiry: The Journal of the Virginia Community Colleges

Author Bio(s)

Lisa Henley is Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Southwest Virginia Community College. She holds a M.Ed. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and a M.A. from the University of Virginia. Phyllis Roberts serves as Grants Coordinator at Southwest Virginia Community College. Phyllis earned her M.A. degree from Liberty University.


This case study examined the perceptions of scholarship recipients participating in Southwest Virginia Community College’s (SWCC’s) S-STEM scholarship program which examined whether the program helped remove barriers to students’ educational goals and STEM career aspirations. The study used a focus group and a survey to elicit responses from student participants in the SWCC S-STEM program. Participants were low-income residents of rural Appalachia, and many were first generation college students. Results indicated that students in the SWCC S-STEM program experienced a wide variety of barriers to STEM educational and career success, including economic, geographic, social, and educational barriers, and that the S-STEM program assisted students in overcoming these barriers. This study may inform efforts to further increase the number of underrepresented students who enroll in and complete STEM education programs.


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