Welcome to DVC’s PUMA STEM Scholars Project!

And that is just the beginning. Program benefits also include:

Cohort Community

Cohort Community

Instructors in the project offer classroom experiences that challenge, inspire, and promote collaborative learning. The spirit of the learning communities is to educate, as you might expect, but to also build community amongst students and faculty. Together, we will build a strong, FUN start on your transfer path in your science, math or engineering major.

Faculty Mentors

Faculty Mentors

The PUMA STEM Scholars will be linked with student and faculty mentors. The mentor experience will improve scholars’ connection to the campus community, provide guidance to improve your resilience and persistence, and provide a valuable partner throughout your time at DVC.

Career Exploration

Career Exploration

PUMA STEM Scholars will be invited into DVC’s MESA Program (Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement), one of the programs housed in our PUMA Center. Through MESA, students will have access to community leaders, career exploration opportunities, DVC STEM Alumni events, and internship opportunities to expand their professional connections and interests.

Dedicated Student Supports

Dedicated Student Supports

PUMA STEM Scholars will build an educational plan in collaboration with a counselor sensitive to the unique needs of STEM majors with intent to transfer. Scholars will also receive support from a dedicated Student Retention Specialist committed to connecting them to college and community supports that meet their needs.

About the program

The PUMA STEM Scholars Project is a Research and Scholarship program funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation. The project explores the role that learning communities can play in improving successful transfer outcomes for STEM students. The project has two major components:

  • A learning community pairing an early math and science course common to many STEM majors with numerous curricular and extracurricular supports.
  • An annual scholarship renewable for up to three years of up to $4,300 annually for students with demonstrated academic potential who meet and maintain eligibility.

Because this program is dedicated to helping students on the STEM pathway while facing academic financial need, as of Fall 2023, it has been taken under the umbrella of DVC’s MESA Program, a statewide program for educationally and economically underrepresented students majoring in calculus-based STEM fields. Due to similar program objectives, the PUMA STEM Scholars Program is open only for MESA students or applicants willing to also apply for MESA.

This project is supported by NSF S-STEM Award #2028005.

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What is included in a learning community?

The PUMA STEM Scholars project is for MESA students interested in joining a STEM learning community, a linked pairing of classes. All students in the learning community take both classes together in the same two sections in the same semester.

The PUMA STEM Scholars project offers five possible learning communities every fall and spring semester:

For students in the Chemistry and/or Biosciences Pathways:

CHEM-120 (General Chemistry I) & MATH-191 (Precalculus)
CHEM-120 (General Chemistry I) & MATH-192 (Calculus I)

For students in the Physics and/or Engineering Pathways:

PHYS-129 (Introductory Physics for Engineers) & MATH-192 (Calculus I)
PHYS-129 (Introductory Physics for Engineers) & MATH-193 (Calculus II)
PHYS-130 (Physics for Engineers and Scientists A: Mechanics and Wave Motion) & MATH-193 (Calculus II)

To join the program, students must enroll in one of these learning communities. Any students who determined by their educational plan, need to take both of the courses in a pairing and are MESA members are encouraged to apply!

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What is the application process?

All MESA students who need one of our learning communities are eligible to join but must apply. The application involves:

  • Submit the PUMA STEM Scholars application
  • If you have not done so yet, submit a FAFSA application. We work directly with DVC’s financial aid office to determine if students meet the NSF’s “financial need” requirement.
  • Meet with the MESA counselor who based on your education plan, will determine if you need to take the courses offered in the PUMA STEM learning communities. If so, MESA's counselor will give you access to register for our sections.
  • You must register for both sections of the learning community
  • If you meet eligibility criteria for our scholarship (see below), you will be invited to an in-person interview before the upcoming semester begins.
  • If you are not a MESA member, please submit a MESA application first.
    • If the MESA program determines that you are eligible to join, go through with the MESA onboarding process. After being onboarded to MESA, you can submit a PUMA STEM Scholars application. Unfortunately, if you are not eligible to join MESA, you will not be eligible to apply for the PUMA STEM Scholars Program. Feel free to contact the MESA staff about your case if you would like to discuss it in-person!

To be eligible for the scholarship

  • Submit a FAFSA application. Scholarships will be awarded based on a student's unmet financial need in awards of up to $4,300 annually for up to three years. Low-income and financial need are defined for undergraduate students by rules for need-based Federal financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Be working towards a major with intent to transfer to a four-year institution in one of the following areas:
    • Biology (but not with a clinical or premedical intent)
    • Natural Sciences (Chemistry, Geology, Astronomy)
    • Math
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
  • Have demonstrated academic potential
  • Be a US Citizen, US National, or legally admitted as a refugee or through application for permanent residence. DACA individuals are not eligible for the scholarship unless they meet one of these requirements. If you are not sure, please email the Principal Investigator, Ellen Beaulieu (lbeaulieu@dvc.edu).
  • Be a full-time student taking 12 or more units at DVC or the equivalent at their transfer institution.
  • If you do not meet the requirements for the scholarship, you should still apply! All MESA students who need the courses in our learning communities are eligible to join our learning communities.

Students who are determined to be scholarship eligible will be invited to an in-person interview held before the upcoming semester.

If you do not meet the requirements for the scholarship, you should still apply! All MESA students who need the courses in our learning communities are eligible to join our learning communities.

Program Benefits

For all participants

  • A cohorted learning community of students taking the same classes together with a commitment to a strong start to their STEM transfer path.
  • STEM faculty in these classes who are part of a teaching team who coordinate calendars and instruction to make the classes and workload more approachable for students.
  • Support from a Student Retention Specialist and STEM counselor for educational planning and skill building.
  • Biannual STEM retreats to build community and skills for success at DVC and on transfer.

Additionally, scholarship recipients receive:

  • A STEM Faculty Mentor whose expertise is aligned with their professional interests.
  • A scholarship benefit of up to $4,300 each year for up to three years that can go with you to your transfer institution if you transfer in two years.

Who should I contact for more information?

Ellen Beaulieu
Professor of Chemistry, Principal Investigator

Concha Gomez
Professor of Math, Co-Principal Investigator

Emmanuel Perez
MESA Counselor