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Maryland’s regional higher education centers growing

The Universities at Shady Grove will break ground this fall on the $145 million Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility building. (Courtesy Universities at Shady Grove.)

The Universities at Shady Grove will break ground this fall on the $145 million Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility building. (Courtesy Universities at Shady Grove.)

After Jacob Wesley completed his Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2011, he moved on to a fellowship near his former campus in Shady Grove.

The fellowship at MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, creates a pipeline for the development of highly qualified scientists who will be on the forefront of creating new medicines for the treatment of diseases. As a result of that opportunity, Wesley is now a senior clinical scientist at the company and is working on a drug that recently received Orphan Drug Indication by the FDA for the treatment of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO).

“Now that I have been at MedImmune for five years, the most rewarding part of the job is to work with such an exceptional group of colleagues towards the single goal of improving patient’s lives,” Wesley said.

It is opportunities like this that have led The Universities at Shady Grove, the regional center in Montgomery County that offered Wesley’s University of Maryland School of Pharmacy doctoral program, to invest heavily in graduate opportunities for science, math, engineering and biomedical careers.

Maryland’s regional higher education centers, including Shady Grove and the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, among others, are seeing strong growth in key graduate programs that provide opportunities and advancement in careers with the highest hiring demand.

The regional centers offer degree programs through partner universities while allowing students the opportunity to live, work and study close to home.

At USG, the school will break ground this fall on a new $145 million Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility that will meet the needs of the region’s projected workforce. It is expected to open in spring of 2019.

Though new graduate opportunities are still in planning stages, USG is working with partner universities to develop new degree programs in the biosciences, cybersecurity, public health and other fields and create internship and career opportunities with local partners like the National Institutes of Health or the National Institutes of Standards and Technology.

Students will be able to tap into collaborative opportunities across disciplines at three research universities — University of Maryland, College Park, University of Maryland, Baltimore and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County – who will be partners at the facility.

“We’re going to link them to the opportunities that companies are providing,” said Stewart Edelstein, executive director of the Universities at Shady Grove. “They (the companies) are hungry for this talent. It’s their future, and I think the region’s future.”

In addition to being a signature building for the region, USG’s programs will also offer expanded opportunities for teaching educators how to teach in those areas, such as a master’s in STEMM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine and Mathematics), through College Park.

Demands for social work, education

In Washington County, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown has seen thriving graduate programs for education and social work.

For instance, Frostburg State University expanded its Master of Education in School Counseling to Hagerstown in fall 2015. This spring, Frostburg at USM-Hagerstown will see its first graduates from the new Doctor of Education – Educational Leadership program. And this coming fall, Frostburg’s Master of Education Curriculum and Instruction will have a new track, the STEM Elementary Teacher Track.

Vickie Mazer, director of graduate services at Frostburg, the institution that offers education programs at USM-Hagerstown, said that the program is responding to needs of local teachers who want to advance their skills and careers and also works with the school system to meet workforce demands.

The new educational leadership program allows working professionals to advance their education at a doctoral level nearby and with a class schedule tailored to their needs.

“It’s really opened an opportunity for students in the Hagerstown and surrounding areas to be able to do that,” Mazer said.

In the social work field, graduates are prepared to work in a variety of roles that include direct practitioners, consultants, and supervisors.

“There’s such a breadth of opportunity available in the social work profession,” said Heidi Moore, USM-Hagerstown site coordinator/ clinical faculty for the Salisbury University Department of Social Work. “There is a need for qualified social workers in the local and regional areas, and Salisbury University’s Social Work Programs’ mission is to provide the inspiration and education for competent and culturally sensitive social work professionals”.

The Master of Social Work program educates leaders at agencies throughout the tri-state area.

And since the Master of Social Work Program started in the fall of 2007 with three students enrolled, it has been steadily increasing. Next year, the department expects more than 60 students in the master’s program at USMH.

A real-world example of this success is the Sibling Connection program offered through Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Hagerstown, coordinated with the Department of Social Services. Salisbury students at Hagerstown developed the idea as part of a course to facilitate more regular meetings between siblings who are in the foster system and separated.

It now is supported with a $24,000 grant and is the first of its kind in the state. Salisbury Master of Social Work student Becca Jacobs is employed at CASA. She is the co-coordinator of the program, along with Tasha Walls, an alumna, who came up with the idea for it.

“I feel like I am right where I am supposed to be (at Salisbury),” Jacobs said. “My career opportunities are just flourishing.”

COURTESY USG

The Universities at Shady Grove will break ground this fall on the $145 million Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education Facility building.