MGCCC selected as 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College

January 8, 2015

sjacollegeMississippi Gulf Coast Community College was named to the 2015 Stem Jobs Approved College list by Victory Media.  Gulf Coast is the only Mississippi community college on the list and one of only two higher education institutions in the state selected.

The inaugural list is the first of its kind to rate universities, colleges, community colleges and trade schools on their responsiveness and relevance to high-demand, high-growth Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations.

More than 1,600 colleges participated in the STEM Jobs ratings process. The ratings are based on rigorous quantitative assessment that measures colleges on criteria created with the assistance of an independent Academic Advisory Board.  Colleges were scored on three key indicators of success: program alignment to job demand, job placement after graduation and diversity in a school’s STEM programs.

“MGCCC’s inclusion on this list is exciting because it offers us the opportunity to showcase our outstanding academic, technical and career programs in STEM fields,” said Dr. Mary S. Graham, MGCCC president.  “Keeping our focus on industry and community needs, we continue to establish new programs and expanded existing programs and facilities in STEM areas.”

Graham said Gulf Coast’s new and expanded programs and facilities include the state-of-the-art Healthcare Simulation Center in Gulfport; the establishment of a dedicated STEM Center building at the Jackson County Campus; a partnership with Mississippi State University to bring bachelor’s degrees in engineering to Gulf Coast; the completion of a new Nursing Complex that will provide for an expansion of the college’s healthcare-related training as well as advanced degrees in partnership with William Carey University; the Gulf Coast Scholars Leadership Program for STEM scholars, which is an effort to increase the enrollment of STEM majors at the institution with a five-year $599,999 National Science Foundation award that will provide scholarships for 125 academically talented students with financial need to pursue degrees and careers in STEM professions; a six-year grant from NASA, in conjunction with The University of Mississippi, for student research and enrichment with participating science honor students receiving stipends for research assistants, mentored research and research publication; and a NASA Community College Partnership Program with The University of Mississippi that will provide $50,000 in STEM scholarships, faculty fellowships and student workshops with the goal of encouraging and increasing the number of community college students engaging in STEM education and skills.

“With strong partnerships with local industries, where STEM skills are vital to their workforce, MGCCC focuses on ensuring students are prepared to work in those areas,” Graham said.  “The highest-paying jobs in the country are those in STEM fields, giving our students the opportunity to find great careers that will pay them well. And with Mississippi’s median income of about $38,000 per household as compared to the national average of $52,000, more students prepared for jobs in high-paying, in-demand fields will help close the income and employment gap that separates our state from the rest of the country.  By encouraging students to major in the STEM fields, MGCCC is helping them become successful employees while also promoting regional economic development in South Mississippi and beyond.”

Daniel Nichols, president of STEM Jobs, said that the 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College list helps parents, students and academic counselors evaluate how well education is translating into real-world jobs and how responsive institutions are to meeting those demands.  “Considering the skyrocketing cost to attend a four-year college is in excess of $100,000, and that we’re facing a shortage of STEM-qualified job applicants nationwide, every parent needs transparent data to help them and their child find the right school. Plus, students need reliable information not only for four-year degrees, but for two-year degrees and certificate-programs that will prepare them for high-paying STEM careers.”

Nichols said that there are a few things that the colleges and universities selected do better than anyone else, including aligning their STEM programs with high-paying jobs that are in demand. “Almost all schools offer STEM degree programs, but many institutions never connect their academic programs to real-world job requirements. These schools, like MGCCC, look at the job market and adjust their programs to meet those ever-changing demands.”

Additionally, he said these colleges have programs, resources and relationships that help their students get jobs and work toward attracting and supporting diverse students and faculty in STEM fields, and they have specific resources dedicated to supporting STEM student achievement and success.  “Every school has a primary mission—for some it’s research, for others its community. For these schools, it’s preparing students for success by focusing on preparing them for education, not weeding out.  Rather, these colleges work to help STEM students thrive in rigorous programs to achieve long-term success, which extends to after graduation. That includes meeting the needs of industry to attract greater diversity in order to continue to lead in the global marketplace. These schools not only understand that, but are actively working to change that equation.”

The list of all 2015 STEM Jobs Approved Colleges selected is available at

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