NVCC Hosts STEM Orientation Event

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STEM faculty & staff at NVCC hosted a week-long orientation event for the College’s new NViSION STEM Scholars.  The first day of the week-long orientation was an on-campus meeting.  Activities for the rest of the orientation week were conducted virtually. 

 The NViSION program at NVCC is an NSF-funded scholars/scholarship program to support promising STEM students graduate from NVCC and either transfer to a 4-year college in a STEM program or directly enter the STEM workforce. The purpose of the program is to provide programming, academic and social supports, and professional experiences to help students build increased motivation towards a STEM career, empower students to self-identify as a STEM professional, and to ensure STEM student self-efficacy, all while providing significant financial support in terms of scholarships to increase their likelihood of success. 

  Students accepted into the program receive access to multiple supports including: 

  • $1000-$5000 per year for the first 2 years of their program 
  • Free virtual student orientation 
  • Free tutoring 
  • All-expense paid university tours and STEM field trips 
  • STEM workshops, advising, and counseling 
  • Opportunities for undergraduate research, internships, and/or job shadowing 

    Student Requirements 

  • GPA of 2.5 with noted accomplishments in STEM courses 
  • US citizen, permanent resident, national, or refugee 
  • Demonstrated financial need as determined per FAFSA 
  • Committed to full-time enrollment at NVCC in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics degree program until completion of the degree and/or transfer to a 4-year college or university 
  • Attend an online student orientation before the start of the fall semester 

 NVCC welcomed a total of 19 scholars this year, 13 new scholars and 6 of whom are returning from last semester. Five of the students are from W.F. Kaynor Technical High School, including Gabriel DeMelo, Brian Fredricksen, Omkar Newland, Aryanna Smith, and Joenlis Vale-Moran. 

Students from other area regional high schools include Jhennifer Curipoma, Nonnewaug HS; Willy Andrade, Naugatuck HS; Jessica Perez, Waterbury Career Academy; Dennis Patino, Danbury HS; Samantha Reichardt, Seymour HS; Samantha Gaughan, Pomperang HS; Christean Crespo, Crosby HS; and Devin DuBois. 

According to Professor Rebecca Binney, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, Co-Director of the program, “Our first cohort started in the summer of 2019 and completed a 5-week summer bridge program whose main goals were to transition students to college while forming a strong cohort mentality and support system for the students.  This cohort had a wonderful 1st year and are on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year college in the very near future. This project is funded for at least 5 years, and currently we are in our second year. This year due to the pandemic the College could not run the standard 5-week summer bridge program. Instead we ran a week-long summer orientation to begin building the cohort mentality with our scholars. The orientation provides essential information and training needed for students to transition most effectively and quickly to college and NVCC.” 

Professor Binney acknowledges the challenge of the virtual component and the importance of the on-campus experience. “The virtual aspect has its limits, so the on-campus orientation is important because it gives the scholars an opportunity to form friendships so that they can help each other out later academically and emotionally.  The orientation also focused on introducing students to campus resources and how to access them both on-campus, and virtually.” 

Students become familiar with many of the virtual tools that help with fall classes, including Blackboard, Microsoft 365, MyMathLab, MyCommnet, and the NVCC Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) which is the College’s tutoring center.  The orientation also focuses on exploring the best ways to learn online and how to best manage their time for greatest academic success. The virtual library presentation teaches how to access the library information online as well as on-campus resources.  As a result of the week-long orientation, scholars can hit the ground running on day 1 of the fall semester.   

 As Co-Director of the program, Professor Binney noted, “I am so excited to see this year's progress and introduce our programming & support to more students. I am most excited to help these passionate students overcome any hurdles and progress towards their professional goals.” 

 Marian Zerbi, Professor of Mathematics and Co-PI, Co-Director, Lead Organizer of the Summer Bridge Program, commented “I love being part of the NViSION program to help the students stay and succeed in STEM.  Engineering, Math, Biology and other STEM majors are not easy.  Many who start on this path do not finish it.  We want to be able to support and help them build grit and persistence to succeed at NVCC and beyond.   I’m looking forward to an excellent new academic year filled with unique challenges.” 

Peter Angelastro, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, co-principal investigator (co-PI) and co-director of the NViSION program, commented, “The important thing our NViSION scholars, actually all new students, need to remember is that there are many people that will support them through their NVCC experience. They cannot be afraid to ask questions to their professors, advisers, or anyone else because we all want to help them succeed.” 

Ms. Krystle Clarke, Grant Program Coordinator, commented. “I support the scholars with challenges that may hinder their learning, and help them to find the most effective way to manage them. Also, I assist with recruiting new scholars, working as an advocate and contact for resources they may need as well as facilitating meetings. I enjoy being a part of their journey as scholars and watching them flourish. In this program they are in great hands because everyone genuinely cares about their success.” 

Members of the NSA NVisions Program team include: Professor of Biology Rebecca Stadel Binney, Ph.D., NViSION Co-Director, PI; and Science Department Chair 

  • Professor Mariangeli Zerbi, Co-PI, Co-Director, Lead Organizer of the Summer Bridge Program  
  • Professor Peter Angelastro, Ph. D, Co-PI, Co-Director  
  • Ms. Krystle Clarke, Program Coordinator  
  • Dean of Academic Affairs, H. Justin Moore, Ph.D, Co-PI  

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Naugatuck Valley Community College serves Beacon Falls, Bethel, Bethlehem, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Middlebury, Naugatuck, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Oxford, Prospect, Roxbury, Sherman, Southbury, Thomaston, Washington, Waterbury, Watertown and Woodbury. The College is located on a 110-acre campus at 750 Chase Parkway, Waterbury, Conn., and in Danbury at 190 Main Street. The College is one of 17 institutions governed by the Connecticut Board of Regents for Higher Education. Visit nv.edu for more information.