STEM program earns international praise

artistic view of computer circuit

Efforts made by UIC and the state of Illinois to support college and career readiness have received international praise.

Illinois Pathways — which includes UIC’s Health Science Learning Exchange — was named one of the Top 100 Education Innovations by Fundación Telefónica, based in Madrid, Spain. The list is based on research by Fundación Telefónica, which highlights social and cultural initiatives.

Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares launched UIC’s Health Science Learning Exchange program in January 2013, part of the state’s Illinois Pathways initiative to promote careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“For somebody from afar to pluck us out and say that this is a great initiative was quite a surprise and an honor,” said Bruce Neimeyer, associate vice chancellor for special programs. “Now people outside the state are saying that this is something others should take note of because it’s the way of the future — a good example of how public-private partnerships could come together.”

UIC’s Health Science Learning Exchange has worked with nearly 200 high schools across Illinois — reaching about 250,000 students — to build career pathways in STEM fields.

The initiative teaches students about careers in the health sciences beyond medicine and nursing, Neimeyer said.

“We are trying to get students to focus on other opportunities — development of laser technology, health informatics,” he said. “We want to start filling the jobs where we have our highest need in the state and do it in way that excites students about career possibilities that were unknown before.”

The Health Science Learning Exchange funded research awards for middle and high school students at the Illinois Junior Academy of Science Expo. The program created 16 health sciences curriculum modules used in schools across the state and provided online courses to help students explore career possibilities, among other initiatives.

“It’s nice to be recognized for the work we’ve been doing,” Neimeyer said.


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