This post was originally published on St. Louis American

By Alvin A. Reid

Harris-Stowe State University’s TRIO Upward Bound program has secured a five-year, $1.4 million federal grant that will enable the program to continue helping participants graduate high school and successfully pursue postsecondary education.

It wasn’t an easy course. HSSU earned the grant after fulfilling several requirements in the application process.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to impact lives and continue to support our students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being. Not only are they leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today,” said Jasmine Lewis, TRIO Programs interim executive director.

This grant enables HSSU’s Upward Bound program to continue its partnership with McCluer High School in Ferguson-Florissant School District, serving 60 high school students, grades 9-12.

Cedric Gerald, McCluer principal, said the program “is breaking limitations and changing his students’ lives.”

“TRIO Upward Bound at McCluer has created a space for my students to imagine themselves on a college campus,” he said.

“It’s the exact opposite of the pipeline to prison; it is the pipeline to prosperity and the foundation to believing in the impossible.”

During the academic year, TRIO Upward Bound meetings are held one Saturday a month from September through May on Harris-Stowe State University’s campus. For six weeks throughout the summer, participants engage in secondary and postsecondary classroom learning and cultural and educational activities.

According to Lewis, the HSSU Upward Bound program met extensive criteria that demonstrated need in the geographical areas it serves.

Its application detailed “ambitious plans to fulfill the program’s core objectives: college-eligible GPA, math and English language arts proficiency on the state exam, retention in and graduation from high school, success in a rigorous high school curriculum, postsecondary enrollment and postsecondary completion.”

We’re grateful for the opportunity to impact lives and continue to support our students’ academic, social, and emotional well-being. Not only are they leaders of tomorrow, but leaders of today

Jasmine Lewis, TRIO Programs interim executive director.

The 5-year grant renewal provides space to grow with current students and students who already graduated from the program.

Students who participate in the program must meet federal guideline standards of the TRIO Program:

The student will be the first in their family to receive a four-year college degree (bachelor’s degree) 

-Must meet federal income-level requirements

-Must meet cumulative grade point average of 2.5

-Have display their desire to attend college                

In addition to providing leadership, mentoring, and tutoring on the HSSU college campus, TRIO Upward Bound also offers an internship component where students will receive work experience at Harris-Stowe and a Bridge Program that allows the students the opportunity to obtain college credit before entering college.

HSSU to offer BioTech certificate

Harris-Stowe State University will offer a Biotechnology Certificate to provide its students with skills to pursue independent research positions, biotechnology related jobs, and graduate degrees, the school has announced.

Students will be offered 11 hours of required courses, and then they can select an Elective Advanced Course Pathway that allows them to focus on training on an advanced topic.

Students will conduct an independent research project in their elective advanced laboratory course under the guidance of an instructor.

According to an HSSU release, the biotechnology pathway “will provide a formative educational experience, bolster students STEM resume and prepare them to succeed in a laboratory career.”

The biotechnology world is searching for formulas to increase diversity.

Each year, 18% of undergraduate students graduate with a STEM degree, and only 2% are Black. 

This past year demonstrated how the biotechnology industry can step up to a challenge.

Michelle McMurry-Heath, BIO President and CEO

In addition, a 2017 study by the trade journal Nature Biotechnology found that only 3% of executive biotech leadership roles are held by African-Americans and 4% by Latinos/Hispanics, despite representing 13% and 18% of the population respectively. 

Women comprise 50% of entry-level roles in biotech, yet a 2018 survey found only 20% of women hold leadership positions, and just 10% serve in board roles 

Seven in 10 biotechs now list diversity and inclusion in their value statements or as a priority, according to a new report from the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). This is up from 46% in 2019. The survey included 100 respondents, representing a separate BIO member company, answering based on data they officially collect only. The sample between 2020 and 2019 was similar. 

“This past year demonstrated how the biotechnology industry can step up to a challenge,” said BIO President and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath, M.D., Ph.D.

 “The survey provides the information we, as an industry, need to develop programming that supports progress for diversity and inclusion.”

Visit hssu.edu for more information and a listing of courses.