Expanding STEM Graduate Education Opportunities for Hispanic/Latinos and Other Underrepresented Minorities and Low-Income Students
In recent history there has not been a more critical need for well-educated scientists who can respond to current, anticipated, and unexpected environmental challenges that significantly impact the quality of life of our nation and our world. Unfortunately, the involvement of Hispanic/Latinos (and other racial/ethnic minorities underrepresented in STEM) is low among those scientific experts in the US currently addressing critical environmental dilemmas. At the root of this problem is the fact that the number of underrepresented minorities (Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, and American Indian/Alaskan Natives) completing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields remains disproportionately low at all degree levels when compared with non-science and engineering degrees and with the diversity of the general population.
This project required the NSUOC to develop a flexible, supportive, and effective academic and career pathway as students with Bachelor’s Degrees efficiently transition to graduate degrees.
This can best be accomplished through a system of organized and strategic interventions that emphasize a coherent learning sequence offering the highest quality and most efficient instruction and support systems. Hispanic/Latinos and other low-income students face additional pressures, in that even though they made it through their undergraduate studies, they are often the first in their families to attend graduate school, therefore they often lack the knowledge and support system needed to meet the higher-level expectations of graduate studies.
The methods and budget allocations used to develop and pilot test the improvements developed under the proposed project are designed to have a significant impact on the academic, community-building, and student support for these underrepresented populations.
As a result of the interventions, Hispanic/Latinos, others underrepresented in STEM, and low-income students will experience:
- more rapid progression through the program via a realigned graduate curriculum;
- fewer impediments to learning, as students’ needs are more proactively anticipated and addressed;
- sustainable curriculum changes; and
- an expanded support model that targets student needs upon admission and through key degree progression points.
Ultimately, the success of the project will be measured through achievement of outcomes such as:
- increases in the number of targeted faculty and graduate students who participate in project activities such as curriculum development, training, and mentoring;
- increases in enrollment and the number of targeted graduate students utilizing new and enhanced programs and services; and
- awarding of fellowships to targeted graduate students.