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Exporting innovation: University of Alabama to replicate Health Sciences and Technology Academy at WVU

Kids playing at a playground

West Virginia high school students participate in the Health Sciences and Technology Academy HSTA Summer camp interacting with daycare tots at the Rosenbaum Family House July 26, 2017. (WVU Photo/Greg Ellis)

A one-of-a-kind mentoring program at  West Virginia University that supports high school students who face social and financial challenges and connects them to STEM-based undergraduate and graduate degree programs will be replicated at The University of Alabama’s Capstone College of Nursing over the next five years.


A $1.2 million Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health will be used by UA, and sub-awardees WVU and Apis Creative, a replication incubator, to create the first full-scale HSTA-based program outside West Virginia.

Like the SEPA funded Health Sciences and Technology Academy at WVU, HSTA-AL will serve rural, underserved, economically challenged, primarily African American high schoolers. Robin Bartlett, associate dean for research at the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, will lead the team in establishing the nursing-focused pilot program in Alabama’s Hale and Pickens counties.

Of the 3,000 young people who have graduated from HSTA in West Virginia, 99% have gone on to college, 89% have obtained a college degree, 84% continue to live and work in the state and they earn, on average, $30,000 more per year than their highest-earning parent.

Also SEPA supported, WVU’s HSTA program uses hundreds of mentors—teachers, community members, higher education faculty and staff and the HSTA participants—to support students facing social and financial challenges in earning a diploma and moving on to college.

“WV HSTA is especially good at helping West Virginia youth dream big and go into STEM professions,” HSTA director Cathy Morton said. “This is because our communities, teachers, and schools lead our universities in helping that happen. We are excited to work with Apis Creative in sharing the program with UA to generate wonderful outcomes in Alabama.”

Apis Creative’s HSTA Hatch division will provide training and consulting services under the guidance of Apis president Bethany Hornbeck and former HSTA director Ann Chester. Alan McKendall, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering in the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, will lead the research and evaluation portion of the project. He will be assisted by Sherron McKendall, senior research associate of WV HSTA.

“HSTA is a unique and highly successful program, developed by West Virginians, for West Virginians,” Hornbeck said. “Apis is deeply honored to work with WVU and WV HSTA in crafting an effort that exports this West Virginia innovation to the nation. We are working hard to ensure that Alabama’s students—and all the students our future partners serve—realize the same benefits of achievement, friends, and fun HSTA students enjoy at home.”

Apis’ HSTA Hatch division was established to support replication of the HSTA program through partnerships with universities and local and national youth development programs. HSTA Hatch is seeking additional partners with which to pursue SEPA and other grant and foundational funding.



CONTACT: Wendy Holdren
Senior Communications Specialist
WVU Health Sciences


Bethany Hornbeck
Apis Creative


Robin Bartlett
Associate Dean for Research
The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing
205-348-8452; 336-207-7774;

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