The Health Sciences & Technology Academy, known as HSTA, is a one-of-a-kind mentoring program in the state of West Virginia that helps underrepresented high school students enter and succeed in STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs. HSTA marshals the efforts of hundreds of mentors, teachers, community members, higher-education faculty and staff, and the HSTA participants themselves through a framework that supports students facing social and financial challenges to obtaining a diploma and furthering their education.
Since its inception in 1994, the program has grown from nine teachers serving 44 students in 2 West Virginia counties to a network of 80 teachers serving hundreds of students across the state. HSTA participants are primarily students who have grown up in rural communities and are first in their families to attend college. More than half are financially disadvantaged, and one-third are African American. The vast majority of HSTA graduates obtain a college education and many earn advanced degrees.
Implemented through West Virginia University, HSTA’s main goals are to increase college attendance in Appalachia, improve STEM education in public schools, empower communities through youth leadership, and increase the number of healthcare providers and STEM educators in underserved communities.
To realize these goals, HSTA created a mentorship structure that supports student success and addresses individual educational and social needs.
The program puts rigorous academic expectations into place that connect learning to students’ personal experiences. It rewards participants and teachers with generous incentives that recognize their accomplishments, and it offers, through the support of the West Virginia Legislature and state colleges and universities, substantial tuition waivers to successful participants who go on to attend an instate institution for an undergraduate or STEM-based graduate degree.
HSTA’s accomplishments in West Virginia are exceptional. Without this far reaching mentoring program, thousands of students would not be realizing their unique potential and using their abilities to improve the communities from which they come.
The mission of HSTA is to increase the number of African American and underrepresented students in WV who attend and complete college, pursue degrees in Health Sciences and STEM majors, thereby increasing the numbers in the STEM and healthcare workforce in the communities of West Virginia.
HSTA is governed by the communities it serves. Divided into 13 regions, HSTA currently encompasses 26 of West Virginia’s 55 counties.
Our 13 regions are managed by local governing boards (LGBs) that oversee programming and enforce HSTA policies and procedures. LGBs consist wholly of volunteers that represent local communities, schools, STEM professions, and HSTA students and parents.
The HSTA Joint Governing Board (JGB) manages the program by setting policy, developing program and procedural elements, and executing the legislative action that grants tuition waivers to HSTA graduates. The JGB includes representatives from HSTA’s local governing boards, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia Board of Education, various STEM professions, and state colleges and universities. A minimum of 51% of JGB members must be volunteers from the HSTA regions.
West Virginia University serves as HSTA’s fiscal, legal, and administrative home. University staff conduct day-to-day operations. Other state institutions provide substantial support by hosting Summer Institutes, Science Symposia, professional development workshops, and other events: Bluefield State College, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Marshall University, Potomac State University, West Virginia University Tech and West Virginia State University.