HSTA’s accomplishments in West Virginia are exceptional. This far-reaching mentoring infrastructure gives hundreds of community leaders the opportunity to improve STEM education, college graduation rates, and health and wellness across the state. And thousands of young West Virginians now have the tools they need to continue their education and make a better life for themselves, their families, and their home communities.
Researchers may be an unusual group for an education program to impact, but the one-of-a-kind structure of the HSTA program does so. It is notoriously difficult for researchers to gain the trust of rural communities, and they often have a poor understanding of the challenges those communities face. The projects developed by HSTA students, however, directly address local issues—and they are themselves trusted by community members. By partnering with them, researchers gain access to important data and the entrance they need to share health and wellness information with the people that need it most.