Nevada State College, NV


The NS STEM Scholars program solves the issue of loss of wages due to the pandemic for economically disadvantaged and underrepresented undergraduate students in STEM at Nevada State College (NS). Established in 2001, NS is Nevada’s only mid-tier institution situated between community colleges and research universities. NS is located in the Henderson/Las Vegas region, an area reliant on tourism with little economic diversification. NS is a Hispanic-Serving (HSI) and an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPSI) with a diverse population of about 7,000 students: 96% of students are Nevadans; about 50% are first generation; 60% are racial/ethnic minorities (41% Hispanic/Latinx, 10% Asian, 9% African American); and over 70% are women. Prior to the pandemic, many NS students were employed in tourism and hospitality, and the region experienced an unemployment rate that rose from 3.9% to 34% in April 2020 due to closures in these industries (Segall, 2021; Reeves, Welch, Drie, 2021). Similarly, during the pandemic, NS participated in the survey titled #Realcollege2021: Basic Needs During the Ongoing Pandemic which revealed that 55% of NS students experience basic needs insecurity (Hope, 2021). Thus, NS allocated HEERF funding to our Scorpion Intern Funding Program (SIFP) to pay internship wages for students who would otherwise take an unpaid internship or forgo an internship because it was unpaid. NS maintains current and active internship agreements with these STEM related organizations: Southern Nevada Health District, City of Henderson, Kurt Segler Water Reclamation, Desert Research Institute, Garden Farms of Nevada, Great Basin Institute, and S&B Christ Consulting (an engineering and environmental agency). NS aligns NS STEM Scholars’ interest with these paid internships. Additional components of the NS STEM Scholars program include the STEM-Well program for accessible social and emotional support, STEM advising, and a STEM section of our marquee College and Career Success seminar. Our response to NSF’s COVID-19 DEI challenge attempts to mitigate STEM students’ experiences with job insecurity and need for economic support by amplifying our $1,500 stipends for otherwise unpaid internships in tandem with scaffolded academic and social support across our student-centered campus.