VALERIE OSIER | STAFF WRITER
Students protested two years ago when the Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) Center at Riverside City College closed down due to budget issues.
A College Cost Reduction and Access grant that was awarded to Riverside City College after Biology professor Heather Smith wrote and submitted the proposal for it in 2009 previously funded the STEM Center.
Be c au se RCC hadn’t institutionalized the program before it came time to renew the grant, when the grant money ran out, the STEM Center was forced to close its doors in 2011.
“I was here and part of the protesting when the STEM Center was closing two years ago,” said Science and Engineering Association President Jennifer Garcia.
Through the work of Professor Smith, Inter im Chancellor Dr. Cynthia Azari, Dr. Marc Walpoff, Shelagh Camak and several students of the SEA, the STEM center was reopened as an independent project.
The grand re-opening event on Sept. 24 invited students in the STEM Center for free food and drinks, games, and a free raffle where participants could win books on different topics of science.
The STEM Center was filled with students and faculty members.
Free food and drinks were provided and students were encouraged to participate in games and a free raffle.
“It was a joint effort from last year’s SEA students, and this year’s, …until finally, Dr. Azari promised us the STEM center would be reopened indefinitely,” said Garcia. “And she has held to her word. It was a lot of Dr. Smith, she and the entire club really pushed hard for it, especially the president and vice president last year, Sarah Kazmi and Cody Gonzalez.”
The STEM center offers many services, including tutoring, mentoring, book and laptop checkout, activities, and a place for club meetings.
Dr. Smith stressed that the STEM center is a critical and necessary resource for all students.
Students who want to use the center don’t have to be enrolled in a STEM class, according to Dr. Smith.
The SEA, professors, and student volunteers currently run the STEM center.
“We’re working hard to get some independent funding to keep the STEM center open and keep the services we provide open,” said Garcia.