In the midst of budget cuts, the Mathematics, Engineering and Science Achievement, also known as MESA, program compensates with private grants, raising almost $200,000.
“It’s not a tremendous amount of money in the world of what things cost nowadays, but we make it go really far for students to get their educations,” Marilynn Spaventa, dean of educational programs said.
When MESA started at City College in 2008, state funding was approximately $80,000. Because of California’s fiscal crisis, it has now been cut to $50,000. However, with help from the recent donations, they have brought their budget up significantly, she said.
The contributors include $35,000 from Verizon, and the rest from companies such as Venero, Yardi, Mech-Tronics, and other private contributions. The money will be spent on important needs for the students, such as administrative costs, trips to science and engineering conferences, books and counseling.
Spaventa said that California is having trouble filling jobs that require science or engineering degrees, and MESA helps underprivileged students transfer into universities to find work in competitive fields like engineering and science.
According to a MESA brochure, most of the students in the program are low-income and are usually the first of their families to attend college. They provide services at K-12, community college and university levels so that students “don’t drop through the cracks.”
Virginia Estrella, director of MESA, said that the students are required to take leadership roles in campus clubs, attend engineering and science conferences, and have access to counselors. These experiences bring them to a professional level.
Spaventa added that more than 90 percent of MESA students, who stay with MESA, transfer in their major and graduate, find work in their chosen field.
“Which is huge, 90 percent success rate, of getting students to transfer in these really challenging majors,” she said.
She also said that she believed the recent donations were given because the donors were being ” good corporations,” and that MESA students could possibly end up their employees.
“They’re seeing that we are helping people that may be working for them in the future,” Spaventa said.