Students take a Summer Institute field trip to Pittsburgh, PA
The Health Sciences & Technology Academy increases the number of African American and other underrepresented students in West Virginia who pursue degrees in health sciences and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors, thereby increasing the number of health practitioners and advocates in the medically underserved communities of West Virginia.
How We Are Working to Achieve It
HSTA helps West Virginia high school students succeed in health care and other STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs. We marshal the efforts of hundreds of mentors―teachers, community members, and higher-education faculty, staff, and students―to create a framework that supports children facing social and financial challenges in obtaining a diploma and furthering their education.
Our goals are to increase college attendance in West Virginia, improve STEM education in public schools, empower communities through youth leadership development, and increase the number of health care providers and STEM educators in underserved communities. In 1994, we began as a two-county pilot program with 44 students. Today, we serve 750 participants across 26 counties. More than 2,300 kids have graduated from our program, many of whom have grown up in rural communities and are the first in their families to attend college. Over half of our students are financially disadvantaged, and one-third are African American.
HSTA puts rigorous academic expectations into place and connects learning to students' personal experiences. Our mentoring program is tailored to individual needs and provides a network of champions that students can lean on. Students internalize social norms they may not be learning in other settings and receive generous incentives that reward their accomplishments.
The distinctive piece of HSTA is the development by our students of substantial research projects that examine and address health and wellness issues relevant to them and endemic in their communities. These projects form the core of each student's HSTA experience and drive the academic learning the program promotes. They also turn HSTA kids into community health advocates—ambassadors who address health and social issues at home even as they move on to college and beyond.