Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) came to the College of Southern Maryland to educate himself on problems facing college students.
The senator visited the community colleges La Plata campus on Thursday afternoon to tour its grounds and speak with students and professors working with the schools nursing and science, technology, engineering and mathematics STEM programs to discuss challenges faced in their respective fields including job prospects and financial issues.
Cardins time on campus began with a meeting over lunch that was followed by a brief tour of the campus beginning at the Center for Business and Industry, and ending at the James C. Mitchell Center for Health Technology, where the senator engaged in roundtable discussions with faculty and students.
Were very proud that the community college system here has adapted to the needs of the communities, Cardin said. However, it does raise concern that even community college is expensive these days. A decade ago, it was unheard of that one would take out loans to attend a two-year school. We need to make sure were as competitive as we need to be in math and science.
One of the primary contributors to the first discussion, which was held with members of CSMs STEM program, was CSM math professor Sandy Poinsett, who also served as the primary investigator for the National Science Foundations STEM grant.
Poinsett said that as part of the program, which operates on campuses in all three counties in the area, one of the biggest concerns was identifying interested students concentrated in STEM-related fields who meet the financial need criteria.
Poinsett said other stipulations of the program include that students take a minimum of 30 credit hours a year and maintain a 3.0 GPA to remain in the STEM program, along with an essay explaining the students interest.
Jimmy OBrien, a biotechnology student at CSM and member of the STEM
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