New York State Department of Education Selects St. Francis College for CSTEP

The New York State Department of Education (NYS DOE) selected St. Francis College to launch and run a Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) that will prepare students from under-represented populations for careers in medicine, health and other fields that require professional licenses.

The program will serve up to 167 students overall each year, and the inaugural CSTEP cohort for the 2020-21 academic year enrolled in summer 2020. To be eligible, students must be African-American/Black, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian or Alaskan native, or be economically disadvantaged, among other criteria.

“We’re thrilled that New York State chose St. Francis College for CSTEP,” said Kathleen Gray, Ph.D., SFC Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Curriculum & Student Support. “The program aims to create more racial and economic equity in professions that offer good jobs, but whose workforces have not been diverse traditionally. CSTEP helps us boost academic success, so we open doors of opportunity to our students who will thrive in professions they may not have entered otherwise.”

Beginning in the 2021–22 academic year, St. Francis will onboard about 42 new incoming freshmen annually, and transfer students in all years are also eligible to join. Students in CSTEP can major in any field as long as they plan to enter a career with professional licensure requirements, which can include medicine, nursing, social work, psychology or accounting. Once enrolled, students remain in CSTEP until they graduate, if they continue meeting program requirements.

CSTEP participants have access to support services, summer programming, financial assistance, and career and research opportunities to ensure they successfully complete their undergraduate degrees and are ready for jobs or graduate school.

Among the benefits provided are a $250 book voucher each semester; travel funds to attend conferences; summer workshops on writing, science and math; tutoring; job counseling and internships.

“The support services for students are critical, but what is so exciting is that participants are part of a vibrant community of fellow CSTEP scholars,” said Dr. Gray. “They will go through their St. Francis College journey in a network of similarly-motivated peers, with whom they can develop a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose.”

Katrina Arce, CSTEP Director

Katrina Arce, CSTEP Director

In September 2020, St. Francis College welcomed Katrina Arce as the Colleges full-time CSTEP Director, charged with overseeing programming and guiding students. Arce joined SFC from the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, where she worked in academic advising for five years.

“I want students to see [CSTEP] as a home away from home,” said Arce. “Community is huge. So [I hope] to create a cohort of students who are really engaged in the program and feel like they have made lifelong friends in it.”

St. Francis College is one of more than 50 New York State colleges and universities NYS DOE funds to run CSTEP at their institutions. In 2019, the College applied for a CSTEP grant and received approval in early 2020.