When the University of St. Thomas conceived of a two-year college to provide an alternate path to a four-year degree, 3M stepped up as an early corporate partner to help launch Dougherty Family College (DFC). Now, the Minnesota-based science and innovation giant is increasing its support with a new initiative, the STEM Preparation Pathway program, launching this fall.
The impact of 3M’s work with St. Thomas enriches STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and opportunities for students through personal connections to 3M employees who serve as mentors and offer internships.
Rose Xiong ’22 was in the second class of DFC students in 2018 and her mentor was Jessi Cooper, global new product marketer for 3M. “Being fresh into college, an 18-year-old walking into a big corporation like 3M, it would be easy to feel intimidated, but Jessi made me feel comfortable,” Xiong said. “I got to be very hands-on with the marketing team. It was exciting as a first-year student to dive right into the world of marketing.”
About half of DFC students say they want to major in a STEM field. First-year students interested in STEM majors had access to intensive one-to-one academic support starting this August to ensure they are ready for college-level math and science courses.
“At Dougherty Family College, our goal is to eliminate the educational attainment gap,” said DFC Dean Buffy Smith about this robust, innovative school that is only the second Catholic university in the nation to offer such an associate degree program geared toward students from underserved communities. “Thanks to 3M, we can prepare more scholars for STEM careers.”
In addition, these STEM students will intern in science and engineering labs during the summer on the St. Paul campus. They will also spend J-Term doing a project to benefit the common good that bolsters their hands-on STEM experience.
“At 3M, we seek to advance fair and equitable outcomes in STEM,” said Michael Stroik, 3M’s vice president of community relations. “We are proud to support the innovative educational approach of the St. Thomas Dougherty Family College through our philanthropy and opening the doors of 3M to such great DFC students.”
Further support to DFC students comes from 3M through scholarships for students who continue into St. Thomas’ College of Engineering. Opening this kind of access for students is a mutually beneficial partnership for St. Thomas, its donor partners and the students.