MESA looks to excel in the coming year


(Sean McKena/The Inquirer)

Students working in the MESA Hub.

Sean McKennna, Staff member

A close knit group that resembles a diverse family dealing in the Math, Engineering and Science Achievement program hopes to make the most out of 2019 — by providing extended opportunities.

“The idea in 2019 is to constantly keep in touch with our students, as much as possible,” said Maitreyee Chandra, who organizes MESA. “It’s hard to do because we have such a big operation here, but we try our best because ultimately if we lose even one student, that’s a loss.”

In addition to Chandra’s passion, she elaborated on their specific goals for 2019 — being an increase in students who earn scholarships, internships at reputable companies and transfer to universities. Not to mention, the emphasis on keeping in touch with those who are in MESA, located in the Puma Center at the Pleasant Hill campus.

“Often our students are going through such severe challenges in their life. They tend to move away,” said Chandra.

Chandra oversees a report of those who have not been showing up, and reaches out to them in order to reinforce their mission of support — often times, the students just need someone listening to them. Those who are in the program are given an abundance of resources in the MESA hub. Specifically, their tutoring services solely dedicated to walking students through the process of how to complete assignments related to STEM.

“Every day there will always be someone writing on the whiteboard walls, and you just look over there and you learn something new every day,” said Scott Uemura, a math and chemistry tutor for MESA. “Just seeing everybody work on their own separate things is super interesting to see, so even as a tutor I learn stuff from the people I tutor.”

Students who come to DVC are arriving from unique backgrounds, and may struggle in different ways — but Chandra hopes that MESA can provide a remedy for that.

“If say there are two students, and one of the students is basically coming from a school that has prepared the student very well for STEM, versus another student who is coming from a school that did not prepare the student very well for STEM,” said Chandra.”Then the student who is coming underprepared, we give them the support, and after the support then the two students become equal.”

There is a definitive focus on equity and preparation within the program that guides individuals in performing well. Given that some of those who come to the Puma Center arrive with financial conflict, MESA has also established a textbook loaning program for their members.

“It’s a lot of relief because that means that there is one less thing that I have to worry about, which is money,” said Angel Ruvalcaba, a fourth year biological chemistry major. “I can focus more on school rather than paying for school.”

MESA also seeks to fulfill numerous social aspects of college — like the inevitable forming of cliques that can lead students to feel outcast or disillusioned. In response, individuals within MESA believe you can describe their hub in one word, community. It is not only one ethnic or racial group but a melding of different cultures who still support each other.

“MESA is way different. When I first joined everybody knew each other, it’s just this big family, so it’s just way different than anything I have experienced on DVC,” said current member Scott Uemura.

For those who are interested in joining or becoming friends of MESA, they are open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.