WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College has been selected as a winner of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund competition and will receive $25,000 from Partners of the Americas to develop a student exchange partnership with Mexico’s Universidad Veracruzana.
During a reception in Guadalajara, Mexico, last month, Partners of the Americas announced PCC as one of eight winners of the highly competitive contest, which sought proposals for new study abroad programs between the United States and Latin America in the field of environmental science. Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Foundation, it was open to higher education institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and the United States.
PCC’s winning submission, “WATER Scholars: Water Awareness through Environmental Research,” calls for a partnership between the college, Universidad Veracruzana (UV) and East Carolina University to make students aware of water conservation’s impact on the environment in the U.S. and Mexico. The proposal outlines development of a student exchange program focused on water ecology and service learning and notes that activities will be led by PCC, UV and ECU faculty.
In a letter notifying Pitt of its successful entry, Steve Vetter, president and CEO of the non-profit, non-partisan Partners of the Americas organization, said the contest drew more than 45 proposals from institutions committed to providing students with unique study abroad opportunities.
But PCC’s submission, Vetter explained, “reflects time, effort and dedication to the goals of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative,” which supports the Obama Administration’s effort to enhance hemispheric competitiveness, stimulate regional education cooperation, and prepare students to be more globally competent for the 21st century workforce.
Dr. Stephanie Rook, PCC Arts and Sciences Division Dean, will oversee implementation of the “WATER Scholars” project, along with PCC Biotechnology Department Chair Christy Weeks and biology instructors Donna Bivans and Samantha Chauncey.
“Pitt Community College,” Rook said, “is committed to helping students and faculty become more globally aware through educational opportunities – domestic and abroad – that extend the borders of the classroom and create a deeper level of understanding of the subject matter, the world around us and how they interconnect.”
With the grant from Partners of the Americas, Rook says PCC plans to develop a sustainable student exchange program with UV, which is located in Xalapa, Mexico, and make strides to increase enrollment, retention and diversity of PCC students pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) majors.
The funding, Rook says, will also allow an additional 10 students to participate in Pitt’s Scholars of Global Distinction Program each year and help eight UV undergraduates study at PCC during the 2017-18 academic year.
Since the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund was introduced in 2014, 86 Innovation Fund grants have been awarded to teams of 168 higher education institutions from 20 countries in the Western Hemisphere. It is expected that more than 115 students will study abroad as a result of the eight awards given this year.