Ruth Morales

Ruth Morales

Allan Hancock College is joining seven Central Coast colleges to ensure bright futures for underrepresented students pursuing an education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines thanks to a prestigious national grant.

For the second year in a row, all eight Central Coast community colleges — Allan Hancock College, Cabrillo College, Cuesta College, Monterey Peninsula College, Moorpark College, Oxnard College, Santa Barbara City College and Ventura College — are working together to support students through the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Bridge to the Baccalaureate (LSAMP/B2B) grant.

The group, called the California Central Coast Community College Collaborative, or C6, was the first group of California community colleges to receive the grant.

“Hancock is proud to partner with these colleges to support student success in STEM,” said Kevin G. Walthers, Hancock superintendent/president. “This collaborative effort strengthens the network of support and resources for students taking on these challenging fields of study.”

Named in honor of Louis Stokes, the first African American congressional representative from Ohio, the grant seeks to expand opportunities for students from underrepresented communities to pursue STEM degrees and careers by providing them with access to financial, academic, and career support.

“We are very excited to leverage our resources across the C6 alliance for the greater central coast community,” said Dominic Dal Bello, LSAMP grant co-principal investigator, and a professor of engineering and chair of mathematical sciences at Allan Hancock College.

“We are implementing embedded tutoring at each campus, and building a network between our colleges, local industry, neighboring universities and alumni to support and motivate our STEM students to transfer and succeed at the university,” Dal Bello said.

Through the collaborative efforts of the C6 colleges, STEM students can access an array of support, services and resources. These include peer and faculty support, special access to research and internship opportunities, site visits to universities and STEM-related companies, and the chance to participate in student research symposia attended by STEM leaders.

The combined efforts of the colleges, including Hancock, created a unique and vital pipeline of support for students like Ruth Morales, who is currently studying civil engineering at Allan Hancock College.

Morales is one of many Central Coast students preparing to present findings from their research project at C6’s Research Symposium at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

“Taking on STEM major can be really challenging, especially if you’re first generation-college student like me,” said Morales, who plans to transfer to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and eventually pursue a career in water resource management.

“But having a support system with mentors and instructors and other students who are there to help you is really motivating.,” Morales said. “It keeps me going even when things get difficult.”

Morales is one of numerous students currently benefiting from the support and resources the grant provides, and there’s always room for more. The program is open to STEM students from underrepresented populations from Hancock and any of the other participating colleges.

To learn more about the C6 LSAMP/B2B program, visit