By Jerry Casarez
The MESA Program gave free laptops to students courtesy of California Connects.
The program’s goal is to increase digital literacy in California communities.
The program is federally funded by a $10.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
California Connects is directed on campus by MESA Program Director, Dr. Armando Rivera.
MESA stands for Math Engineering Science Achievement, which enables educationally disadvantaged students interested in those fields prepare for and graduate from a four-year college or university with a degree in math and engineering.
“East Los Angeles College this semester got 120 laptops,” said Rivera.
The program is expected to continue for two more years.
Students who qualified for the California Connects program were asked to work within their communities with a minimum of seven people to educate on the benefits of using computers and the Internet.
The laptops awarded come fully equipped with Microsoft Office Professional and an AT&T wireless broadband card that includes six-months of service.
There were some requirements to receive lap tops.
“You must be a Science , Engineering or Mathematics student, have a GPA of 2.0 or more and you must be in financial need. You must also come in and take the certification test,” said Rivera.
Among those students who benefited from the program is Chemical Engineering major Marilu Vazquez.
“They provided me with a laptop that is really cool” said a smiling Vazquez.
A key component of the program is to spread the message of computers to those in the community.
“It’s great. I have friends who don’t know how to research or maybe look for a map. I can teach and show them,” said Vazquez.
Vazquez found out about the program through her involvement in MESA.
“I would say go ahead and apply for it because it’s worth it,” said Vasquez to any Elans considering the program for the future.
“We’re going to have more laptops next semester, so we’re going to be looking for students that are eligible. We invite students to come down,” said Rivera.
“To be a part of this program students don’t have to be MESA eligible. They just have to meet the requirements of the California Connects program, but they do have to come in to participate in MESA activities.”
“For students that are interested in the fields of math, science and engineering an invitation is always extended,” said Rivera.
“If they, by any chance, want to explore these fields, or want to move to these fields then we ask that they come and see myself or my staff.
“There are so many opportunities now-a-days that it’s ridiculous. There is money if you want to pursue a degree. We have a MESA scholarship that is up to $12,500. There is no excuse not to study. There is help.
“If there are students in good standings that we can help, that’s what makes our job so cool and fulfilling,” said Rivera.
For students interested in the program for next year visit the MESA office located in E7-210B.