Community college, biotech companies partner to prepare students for careers At MiraCosta College, industry-specific training and a matching academic curriculum combine to ready students for biomanufacturing jobs, upgrades facilities, and helps workforce issue December 12, 2023 By Daniel Silverman Read Time Strada Article Adult Learners ECCPC Employer Alignment Philanthropy Work-Based Learning ... Sophia Hewitt wanted financial stability for her family and knew biotechnology was a growing industry in San Diego County that could lead her to a well-paying and gratifying career. Yet before she became a student in MiraCosta College’s biomanufacturing program, even the word “biotechnology” was intimidating to the single mother. An online search led Hewitt to the bachelor’s degree program in biomanufacturing at MiraCosta College, the first bachelor’s degree in the nation offered at a community college. After hearing more about the program from a counselor and getting a confidence boost from a supportive professor, Hewitt knew this was the program was for her. Today, Hewitt reports, her proudest moments are when her kids tell their friends, “My mom is a scientist!” Her story is one of many student successes in MiraCosta’s Increase Diversity, Equity, and Advancement in Biotechnology (IDEA-BTEC) program, created to train a diverse student body for successful careers in the region’s growing biotechnology sector. At the heart of the program, funded in part by a $400,000 grant from Strada Education Foundation, is a unique partnership between the college and two local biotech employers: Sterogene Bio-Separations and Open Biopharma Research and Training Institute. Physician and scientist Susan Szathmary, the CEO at Sterogene, saw first-hand the challenges of identifying and cultivating talent for her company’s growing staffing needs. She also saw a particular opportunity to identify untapped talent from populations that are historically underrepresented in biotechnology, including people of color and those with disabilities. “I saw that the key to developing new medicines was to have a more educated workforce and more enthusiastic young people going into this field,” Szathmary said. That vision has turned into a public-private partnership that is serving students and employers alike, and the employment rate for the first three graduating classes has exceeded 90 percent. Together, the employers and MiraCosta have created a partnership that includes: Open Biopharma Research and Training Institute, also led by Szathmary, which provides a research, development, and production facility that was specifically designed to support work-based learning and apprenticeships. Sterogene, which provides industry-specific training in skills needed to qualify for well-paying jobs in biomanufacturing. MiraCosta, which provides the counseling and flexible schedules needed to make the program work for a diverse student body in addition to providing the academic curriculum to match the work-based learning components. MiraCosta’s success is a reminder that these kinds of partnerships can be a linchpin for aligning the education and training that learners desire with the workforce needs of local economies. Through the $4 million Employer Community College Partnership Challenge grants to MiraCosta College and 10 other community college and employer partnerships, Strada hopes to fund a range of models that other colleges and employers can learn from. “This program helps students along their educational journey, but also helps them get that first job, which is so critical for themselves and their families,” said Sunita Cooke, president of MiraCosta College. One important lesson that is already clear from the MiraCosta partnership is the important role that state policy and policymakers can play. Forward-thinking legislation in California made it possible for MiraCosta and other community colleges to offer bachelor’s programs. And the California Apprenticeship Initiative is providing much-needed funding for the innovative apprenticeships that are part of MiraCosta’s IDEA-BTEC program. In the end, these programs work only if they serve the students they are intended to attract. At MiraCosta, students talk about the important role of the counselors in the program, and how much support they receive from professors and professional mentors alike. They mention the importance of the flexible schedules the program allows for, so working learners can find apprenticeships that fit into their schedule. And they mention the alignment of their classroom curriculum with the work-based learning in a lab environment, giving them the knowledge, skills, and confidence to succeed in their careers after completing the bachelor’s degree. All of this adds up to an exciting program that is helping learners realize their career aspirations. And some of them are even finding gratification in unexpected places, like hearing their kids talk proudly about their scientist mom. Group 13 Group 11 Group 12 To create a PDF of the webpage, choose in opened window 'Save as PDF' option in 'Destination' select or something like that and click to save or print button. Got it Daniel Silverman Learn More In the News from Strada December 12, 2023 Community college, biotech companies partner to prepare students for careers At the heart of MiraCosta College’s Increase Diversity, Equity, and Advancement in Biotechnology (IDEA-BTEC) program, funded in part by a $400,000 grant from Strada Education Foundation, is a unique partnership between the college and two local biotech employers: Sterogene Bio-Separations and Open Biopharma Research and Training Institute. November 1, 2023 Community college, dental insurer come together to address dental hygienist shortage The community college learning lab and dental clinic is now a newly refurbished space where dental hygiene students refine their technique on mannequins outfitted with realistic incisors, molars, and cuspids. The clinic was remodeled through a partnership with Delta Dental of Rhode Island and supported by a $400,000 grant from Strada Education Foundation. September 12, 2023 New Strada grant aids those who help students and families complete FAFSA A new and improved Free Application for Federal Student Aid expected late this year should provide opportunities for more students and their families to access money to pay for college. Yet the transition to this new form presents unprecedented challenges for those who work to help students complete it. July 18, 2023 National organization preparing states for Better (but later) FAFSA Major changes in the form, combined with an expected delay in its release, are combining to intensify the work of spreading the word about the updated FAFSA. May 17, 2023 From College to Career: Students’ Internship Expectations and Experiences A wide range of experiences prepare students for success beyond the completion of their college degree. The evidence for the value of interning on students' future careers is strong. April 5, 2023 Employer and Community College Partnerships: Models and Practices for Supporting Students and Strengthening the Workforce In an era of student enrollment declines, tight labor markets, rising college costs, and a growing lack of confidence in the value of a postsecondary education, community colleges and employers have ample reasons to partner together. April 5, 2023 Trends in Employer Partnerships with Community Colleges: Insights From Strada’s National Grant Challenge Partnerships between community colleges and employers have the opportunity to address local and regional economic needs through a range of tools, including supporting student success through resources and services, integrating work-based learning, and building career pathways. January 17, 2023 $6 Million Awarded To Expand Higher Education Programs Aimed at Student Success Beyond College Completion Three-year grants awarded to four institutions will support expansion of programs designed to help learners succeed during and after completion of their degree or credential. These programs deploy a broad range of strategies from new technology solutions to embedded, industry-recognized credentials, which will be made available to thousands of new learners through these grants. November 17, 2022 Strada announces $4 million commitment for 11 community college and employer partnerships working to connect learners with opportunity Two-year grants will support proven partnerships that connect learners to education and in-demand employment opportunities and strengthen regional economies. September 12, 2022 Strada Scholar D’Vontae Scott Delaware State sophomore accounting major eyes and a different career path after viewing a wealth of options. September 12, 2022 Strada Scholar Jeremy Jackson Sophomore engineering ‘rock star’ learns to become a leader while following in the HBCU grad footsteps of his parents and brother. September 9, 2022 Strada Scholar Keante’ Lewis As a natural leader, student embraces opportunities to work in her field and build campus community September 7, 2022 Strada Scholar Imani Burke With a passion for writing and teaching, student seeks ways to teach while she’s still learning July 26, 2022 At Opening of Jackie Robinson Museum In New York Today, Strada Celebrates the Legacy of No. 42 and 42 Scholars Supported Through Historic Investment Strada Education Network is pleased to celebrate the opening of the Jackie Robinson Museum in New York City. June 15, 2022 Strada Education Network Launches $4 Million Employer and Community College Partnership Challenge to Help Meet Today’s Education and Workforce Needs May 16, 2022 Strada Launches Second Phase of $10 Million Beyond Completion Challenge in Partnership With the Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity Phase 2 allows Taskforce members to seek up to $1.5 million ($6.25 million total) to expand efforts to connect education to employment.