Project Acabado: Embracing STEM Completion

Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Kiino

Oxnard College was awarded a Partnership for Title III Hispanic Serving Institution STEM and Articulation grant through the Department of Education. The grant is for five years, roughly six million dollars, and includes Cal Lutheran, CSU-Channel Islands, and the Ventura County Office of Education as grant partners. As a partner in the grant, Cal Lutheran will receive approximately $1.5 million during the five years.

The GSOE will figure prominently in this work through the following activities:

  • Dr. Heidi Coronado-Olsen (Counselor Education) will develop and conduct resiliency circles for Oxnard College students in the STEM fields;
  • Dr. Michael McCambridge (Learning & Teaching) and Dr. David Marcey (Biology) will create a Center for Active Learning to provide professional development to faculty;
  • Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Kiino (Educational Leadership) will be the project evaluator;
  • Dr. Mike Hillis will be Cal Lutheran's Project Director.

Dr. Diane Rodriguez-Kiino also authored the evaluation section of Cal Lutheran’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions Title III STEM Grant for the United States Department of Education. Named ALLIES in STEM, Cal Lutheran University received nearly $5 million to support first-generation and low-income students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It was an honor to collaborate with lead authors Dr. Kelly Owens and Dr. Matt Ward to understand the mission of ALLIES in an effort to design and draft a comprehensive mixed-methods evaluation plan. Dr. Rodriguez-Kiino will lead the evaluation and research team (ERT), and will utilize a participatory-oriented evaluation approach, guided by an underlying philosophy that we are most concerned with the ALLIES in STEM target population (Briggs, Coleman, and Morrison, 2012). Extending during a five-year period, the ERT will research the effectiveness of ALLIES in STEM on Hispanic and low-income students who are the first in their families to attend college. Via formative and summative assessment, including interviews, observations and multiple stages and levels of tracking (e.g., scholar transfer rates, academic mindset, final grades in gateway courses, etc.), the evaluation plan will support the fidelity of this grant-funded initiative.

The assignment reminded Dr. Rodriguez-Kiino of her dedication to underrepresented students. The funding will affect the lives of Hispanic and low-income students at Cal Lutheran for the next five years, and to her, this is at the core of why she works in higher education. Her own father was born into a migrant farm-working family, but resiliency and opportunity led him to and through college, paving the way for the rest of her family. This grant is special to her, as she wants underserved students – who are daily reminders of her dad – to have the opportunity to positively change their lives and the lives of others. California Lutheran University is where this can and will happen.