Virginia Western Community College’s Women in STEM program recently earned the 2017 post-secondary Creating Excellence in Education Programs Award for efforts in promoting academic and professional excellence in young women interested in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) field. The college received the award from the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education on June 8 in Richmond.

The Creating Excellence in Education awards are presented to institutions at the secondary or post-secondary stage, which have demonstrated exemplary programs and alliances and advocated for greatness in both technological and career-oriented education. The Virginia Western Women in STEM program strives to encourage female students to partake in programs and career paths that have traditionally been male-dominated.

“It is a privilege to receive this award on behalf of the entire Virginia Western team. We are proud to say that our mentoring program has now extended into other fields and serves as a model for other institutions,” said Amy White, Dean of STEM. “It is our belief that by creating and nurturing relationships between our students and professionals in the field, we are motivating and teaching our students in ways that reach far beyond the classroom walls.”

In the 2015-2016 academic year at Virginia Western, the first ever Women in STEM Mentoring Program was established with nine mentor-mentee pairs. In the 2016-2017 year, this number drastically increased to 27 mentor-mentee pairs. The Women in STEM Mentoring Program is designed for female students to garner advice from female professionals who currently work in a STEM field.

The Women in STEM program is funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career & Technical Grant. The program’s motto is “Collaborate, Inspire, Mentor.