National organization ranks VGCC in top 25 for Latino STEM graduates

From left, Jason Melendez and his father, Manuel “Manny” Melendez, both of Oxford, train in the Biotechnology lab on VGCC’s Main Campus in this photo from 2008. Jason graduated with a Bioprocess Technology degree in Dec. 2009, while Manny followed in May 2010. Both went on to work in cosmetic or pharmaceutical manufacturing, and Manny is currently working toward a degree in pharmaceutical science at North Carolina Central University. (VGCC photo)

A new report finds that Vance-Granville Community College is among the top 25 community colleges in the nation awarding associate degrees in certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields to Latino students.

The report, called “Finding Your Workforce: The Top 25 Institutions Graduating Latinos in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) by Academic Level—2009-10,” was recently released by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, DC-based not-for-profit organization that seeks to accelerate higher education success for Latino students by providing data-driven analysis of the educational status of Latinos, and by promoting education policies and institutional practices that support their academic achievement.

“Drawing attention to the institutions graduating Latinos in postsecondary education links the college completion goals of the U.S. with the workforce needs of the country,” Deborah Santiago wrote in the report’s executive summary. “Given the relative youth of the Latino population relative to the aging of the U.S. population overall, supporting the increased growth of Latinos with postsecondary credentials in STEM is critical to meeting the projected workforce needs of the nation by 2020.” Santiago went on to cite a 2012 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that warned that “if the United States is to maintain its historic preeminence in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics…then it must produce approximately one million more STEM professionals over the next decade than are projected to graduate at current rates….Given Hispanics are projected to account for 75 percent of the growth in the nation’s labor force between 2010 and 2020, Latinos completing certificates and degrees in STEM fields will be vital to meeting the national STEM college completion goal.”

The specific category in which VGCC was ranked in the top 25 was “Science Technologies/ Technicians.” VGCC offers a two-year degree in Bioprocess Technology.

“Vance-Granville is a college where every student is challenged and encouraged to succeed,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “We agree with Excelencia in Education on the importance of recruiting adults of all backgrounds and ages into STEM-related programs, and ensuring that they complete their degrees with the skills they need for rewarding careers.”