Inspiring Future STEM Majors Through LaGuardia’s College Now Program

by Dr. Claudette Davis (Department of Natural Sciences - Biology; Natural Sciences College Now Science Co-coordinator and STEM Research Academy Coordinator)

College Now is a CUNY-wide dual enrollment program for New York City high school students. LaGuardia's College Now Program team includes Director Tyleah Costillo, Coordinator Leslie Bialecki, and Recruiter Marisol Lisboa. One of my responsibilities as the College Now Science co-coordinator is to offer professional development workshops for our high school teachers who teach Natural Sciences courses on LaGuardia’s campus or at their high schools. Professional development workshop topics include STEM bottleneck courses, COVID-19 pandemic effects, and STEM workforce competencies.

College Now allows students to take 12 credits of college-level courses in the Humanities, MEC, English, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences departments for free and receive college credit upon receiving a passing grade. Positive benefits have been observed for College Now, including enrolling in college after graduating high school, improved retention after their first college semester, higher GPAs (high school and college), and reduced time to college graduation (Allan and Dager, 2012). As part of our recruitment efforts, headed by Marisol Lisboa, the team works with Principals, guidance counselors, and high school College Now coordinators to ensure our fifteen partner high schools throughout New York City know all the opportunities that await their students at LaGuardia.

In Fall 2023, The College Now team and I hosted the biannual College Now STEM Day workshop. The workshop was designed to be interactive and introduce high school juniors and seniors to the wonderful world of STEM. Forest Hills High School (Queens, NY) students participated in demonstrations by Natural Science faculty representing different STEM disciplines such as chemistry, environmental science, and physics demonstrations. Dr. Christopher Farley (Chemistry; Physical Sciences Program Director) "elephant toothpaste" demonstration. Dr. Farley demonstrated the catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide using dish detergent and food coloring. A giant, colorful foam snake emerged, and Dr. Farley explained the chemistry responsible for the reaction. Dr. Preethi Radahkrishnan (Biology; Environmental Science Program Director) demonstrated the concept of soil erosion and the importance of vegetation. Dr. Pratikkumar Rathod (Chemistry) explored sources of electricity using lemons, diode assembly, and different metals. Using light emitting diode (LED) to demonstrate the conductive properties of metal elements. Dr. Roman Senkov (Physics) demonstrated energy and power using a capacitor and transformer. Finally, Dr. Yves Ngabonziza (MEC; Engineering Program Director) gave an informative presentation about LaGuardia’s Engineering Program.

The faculty and staff at LaGuardia make a concerted effort to provide students with foundational knowledge and transferable skills that will make them academically competitive when they graduate and transfer to their 4-year college to complete their Bachelor’s degree. In addition, through the many opportunities to embark on experiential learning in the classroom or secure internships, our students also leave LaGuardia workforce-ready. For high school students (and parents) interested in learning more about College Now courses, they should contact their high school College Now representative or email Leslie Bialecki or Marisol Lisboa.

Allen, D. and Dadgar, M. (2012), Does dual enrollment increase students’ success in college? Evidence from a quasi-experimental analysis of dual enrollment in New York City. New Directions for Higher Education, 2012: 11-19.,