COS team writes award-winning plan to reduce student debt

STEM students at COS finish third in National Student Research League Challenge Problem competition for two-year colleges

TULARE COUNTY – A team of STEM students at College of the Sequoias has researched a solution to reducing student debt and the plan was good enough for third place in a national math competition.

The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) announced last week the COS team earned third place in the National 2020 Student Research League Challenge Problem.  Members of the team were Zachary Holder, Sarah Redden and Nayara Soria, and they were led by faculty member Vineta Harper.

The top three teams will be recognized by AMATYC at its 2021 conference and will be awarded scholarships.

This year’s competition for finalists was held from March 20 to April 6. The Challenge Problem was titled “Forgive and Forget or Forever in Debt.” The teams researched the current state of student loan debt, along with the ideas that have been proposed by presidential candidates and other individuals for solving the current crisis. The participants used mathematical modeling to evaluate the effectiveness of these proposals. Each team had to write a paper describing their analysis, recommending a plan for reducing student debt, and defending their recommendation. The competitors were narrowed down to Regional Finalists, and then the top seven papers were forwarded to a team of STEM professionals who determined the national winners.

Grand prize went to a team from Saint Paul College including members Mathieu Landretti, Sean McCauley, and Ryan Van Domelen and faculty member Enyinda Onunwor. Saint Paul College in Minnesota also earned second place with its team including students Tyler Traub, Sharon Memoi, and Joshua Mensah and faculty member Avani Shah.

COS had two of the top three teams at the West Regional Finals. The other team was comprised of Safeer Rasul, Jesus Galeana and Jared Patterson. A team from Mira Costa Community College in San Diego County rounded out the finalists.

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