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Quinsigamond Community College Student Accepted for New M.I.T. Program;

First-Generation College Student Placed on Research Team with M.I.T. Ph.D. Candidates

Contact: Cherie Ronayne
Office of Institutional Communications
cronayne [at]

Release Date: 

Worcester, MA – February 24, 2014 – Mr. Ato Howard of Worcester, a Biomedical Engineering  Major at QCC was recently accepted to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s new i-Trek program ( I Turn Research into Empowerment and Knowledge).  Mr. Howard was searching for “an opportunity to conduct research that would provide additional skills that would give me an edge as a transfer student after graduating from QCC.”
The new M.I.T program provides just that opportunity. Mr. Howard completed an on-line application and was sent an acceptance letter in early December.

The i-Trek program provides under-served and under-represented students with the skills and resources necessary to succeed in STEM undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The new program was developed to address the lack of diversity among STEM degree recipients and provides opportunities for conducting and applying research which may not be readily available to students at smaller institutions. In addition to research opportunities, the program requires that participants fund their research projects collaboratively beyond MIT’s initial 50% funding allowing them an additional learning opportunity in grant and proposal writing.

Mr. Howard will spend two weeks in Florida this June with M.I.T. Ph.D. candidates as part of a team researching a coral-reef based chemical. He will be responsible for providing progress reports and setting immediate goals for the project before the summer launch.  After completing the project, teams will be responsible for final presentations of their work that will include all results and findings. After this formal presentation, participants (called Trekkers) will present their project to local high schools with the specific goal to stimulate more interest in STEM fields among under-represented and under-served groups.

Mr. Howard is a Phi Theta Kappa International Honor society member, a Psi Beta Psychology Honor Society member and an on-campus math tutor. He is also a first generation college student in his family, who is originally from Ghana. He is a participant in the TRIO Student Services Program at QCC – a federally funded program that provides first-generation and economically disadvantaged college students, and students with disabilities the support and services needed to achieve academic success.  Of his i-Trek opportunity, Mr. Howard says that he is “very excited to see other parts of the country and do research for the first time.”  Joseph Adams, Project Director of QCC’s TRIO Program is proud of Mr. Howard’s recent acceptance into the i-Trek program saying, “Ato is a very goal-oriented, hard-working young man who couldn’t be more deserving of this opportunity. We wish him well.”

Mr. Howard hopes to transfer to M.I.T. after he graduates this May from QCC with an Associate degree in Science - Engineering, Biomedical Engineering Option.

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.