Students from the Excelerate in STEM SummitThe Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Excelerate in STEM Scholarship Program held its first Excelerate in STEM Summit on February 10 at the college’s Harrison County Campus.

The Excelerate in STEM Scholarship Program is funded by a National Science Foundation S-STEM Grant. There were 17 students in attendance, all of whom are part of the Excelerate in STEM Scholarship Program.

The purpose of the Excelerate in STEM Summit was to provide students with an opportunity to meet and learn from industry professionals and assist in preparing students for their future careers in STEM. The event also served an opportunity for the students to bond and connect with their peers.

Amanda Sharrow, Principal Investigator on the NSF S-STEM Grant stated, “We wanted to provide the students with a conference-style experience with sessions and activities that were relevant over a wide variety of STEM disciplines.”

Dr. Jason Pugh, Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance at MGCCC, was the keynote speaker. Pugh has a background in both physics and virtual learning. Pugh offered students a unique perspective with his background and encouraged them to find a balance between building their skillsets and making time for hobbies.

The Summit also included a student-moderated panel discussion with STEM industry leaders. Industry Panelists included Kimberly Washington, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager at Mississippi Power; Wayne Miller, Director of Public Works and Engineering for the City of Gulfport; Eric Jeansonne, Meteorologist at WLOX News; and Julie Smith, Computer Scientist at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Breakout sessions emphasizing networking skills, workforce development, and stress management were provided by Kelly Devine, Coast Young Professionals Director at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce, and Erin Rosetti, Communications Manager for Memorial Health System.

The Excelerate in STEM Summit was hosted by Amanda Sharrow, NSF S-STEM Grant Principal Investigator; Dr. Kelly Rouse, NSF S-STEM Grant Co-Principal Investigator; John Miller, NSF S-STEM Grant Co-Principal Investigator; and Dr. William Sutphin, NSF S-STEM Grant Co-Principal Investigator.

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