Supporting Inclusive Excellence in STEM Education for Low-Income High-Achieving Students through Scholarships and Innovative Programming
The Supporting Inclusive Excellence (SIE) project at Ursinus College will support 30 academically talented students demonstrating financial need. Scholarships and support programs will assist these students in completing their majors in biology, biochemistry, or neuroscience and in entering the STEM workforce or STEM graduate school following completion of a baccalaureate degree. This project will address a national need for trained individuals to enter a growing number of STEM career opportunities. Over the five-year grant period, 30 students will receive scholarships to help close the gap between existing aid and family contributions for tuition. Not only will academic support systems be provided to scholarship recipients to remain in the pipeline toward future STEM careers, other students on campus will also benefit from some of these supports.
The technical merit of the project lies in its coordinated approach to support recruitment and retention of STEM students through academic advising, curricular and co-curricular activities, mentoring and research opportunities. Activities for scholarship recipients include: 1) intensive co-curricular advising to support STEM coursework, 2) a bridge program to facilitate the transition between the first and second semesters of introductory biology, 3) inclusive pedagogy in introductory biology and chemistry courses, 4) a series of workshops offered by the Career and Professional Development office towards achieving STEM careers, and 5) research opportunities that will strengthen students' connection to the STEM community. The SIE project will be assessed and findings will be shared so that other institutions can incorporate successful approaches for supporting high-achieving and low-income students. The results of the assessment will contribute to the larger knowledge-base regarding the circumstances under which scholarship projects of this type are successful.