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Education Pathway to Diversify STEM Workforce: A Call to Action for a Collaborative Ecosystem

Sanchez-Felix, Manuel, Zulick, Elizabeth, Sadler, Lauren-Ash and Bladon, Mariluci (2021) Education Pathway to Diversify STEM Workforce: A Call to Action for a Collaborative Ecosystem. American Association of Pharmaceutical Science Newsmagazine, August (1).


A session was held during the 2020 AAPS meeting that highlighted the benefits of a diverse and inclusive (D&I) workforce in the pharmaceutical industry and the need for improved recruiting of D&I candidates (Coker, 2020). In this article, we describe a successful ecosystem involving academia, biotech/pharma, and students that promotes degree attainment, job placement (internships, co-op, and fulltime employment), and career advancement. The Associate’s to Master's (A2M) degree pathway involves close collaboration between Middlesex Community College (MCC), Northeastern University, and over 30 advisory board members from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. The objective of the pathway is to increase degree attainment rates of low-income students who are disproportionately underrepresented minorities by eliminating barriers to education. As part of this National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program, students receive full scholarships as they earn their Associate (AS) , Bachelor of Science (BS), and/or Master of Science (MS) degree in Biotechnology, and are provided additional support, including mentoring, tutoring, seminars, lab tours and more. Importantly, the education pathway has been built in partnership with industry leaders to meet the demands of local employers, focusing on both technical and soft skill development. The A2M Scholars are all low-income, full-time, domestic students per NSF requirements, and over 53% identify as underrepresented minorities in STEM. Nationally, the retention rate for BS degree STEM students is 53.7% (What is the S&E retention rate in U.S. 4-year institutions?). In contrast to the national retention rates, the A2M degree pathway has retention rates that exceed 90% at all three degree levels. By sharing this program and its outcomes, we hope to promote future development of similar pathways within all industries, and encourage continued support of industry partners.

Item Type: Article
Date Deposited: 11 Sep 2021 00:45
Last Modified: 11 Sep 2021 00:45


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