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Tools for Success Program at Miami Dade College Awards More than $50,000 in STEM Scholarships

Tools for Success Program at Miami Dade College

Tools for Success graduates with MDC Kendall Campus President Dr. Lourdes Oroza (left), Program Director Maria Cardenal and MDC Kendall Campus Dean of Academic Affairs Dr. Alicia Giovinazzo.

Miami, June 7, 2013 - Miami Dade College ’s (MDC) innovative Tools for Success (TFS) program, aimed at recruiting and preparing underserved students to complete associate degrees at MDC and transfer to four-year programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), recently awarded scholarships worth $3,000 each to 17 graduates, as the program culminates. They will be transferring to an array of top-notch universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and more. 


Established at MDC’s Wolfson and Kendall campuses from 2007 to 2013, Tools for Success provides a pathway for students to gain exposure in unique ways to a world of educational and professional possibilities. It effectively led more than 300 students through STEM related courses and activities with the financial support of a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation.


The NSF-funded program implements seven initiatives focused on recruitment, retention and transfer assistance. These initiatives provide academic, financial and transfer support to STEM students who participate in the program.


“Tools for Success gave me confidence, kept me inspired and helped me realize my potential and the endless possibilities in a STEM career,” said MDC alumna Hannah Morbach, now a nuclear engineering major at the University of Florida.


Students in the program were required to take four special STEM one-credit courses – Tools for STEM Success, Physical Science Lab Fundamentals, Leadership in STEM, and Skills for Transfer Success. Faculty and staff incorporated technology, such as podcasting STEM skills courses, to increase student interest in the sciences. Students also attended numerous science forums to expose them to scientists working in academia and on the field. Faculty mentorship programs were developed to provide advisement and close monitoring of students’ progress, in addition to a peer mentoring program where second year TFS students mentored incoming TFS students.


In addition, field trips to the  Florida Everglades, Virginia Key Beach and diving and snorkeling in the Florida Keys not only gave students a chance to get closer to nature  but also brought them closer together as a learning community. Students were also invited to visit NASA and other universities.


Throughout the program, faculty and staff encouraged students to apply to four-year institutions by providing transfer scholarships and application-process assistance. 


The two-year graduation rate of Tools for Success students showed 91% of students who completed the program transferred to a STEM related program at an upper division institution.


This year’s transfer scholarship recipients are:


Kendall Campus

Steven Rivadeneria, MIT, Aerospace Engineering

Angelica Fiol, Illinois Institute of Technology, Mathematics

Hannah Morbach, University of Florida, Nuclear Engineering

Luis Manrique, Virginia Tech, Civil Engineering

Andres Gomez, Florida International University, Biology

Ariel Ruiz De Villa, University of Florida, Microbiology and Cell Science

Anna Echeverry, Florida International University, Psychology

Anelize Salmon, University of Florida, Biology

Kristopher Putt, University of Central Florida, Forensic Science

Carolina Velasquez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chemistry (Pre-Medicine)


Wolfson Campus:

Isabel Arias, Illinois Institute of Technology, Biomedical Engineering

Stanley Merantus, Florida Atlantic University, Civil Engineering

Brittany Gonzalez, Georgia Institute of Technology, Biomedical Engineering

Priscilla Peña, FIU Honors College, Biology

Ana Martinez, University of Miami, Chemistry

Yanira Ortega, University of Central Florida, Marine Biology

Felipe Betancor, Drexel University, Mechanical Engineering

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Kai Hill, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Roxana Romero, 305-237-3366,, media specialist

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.