Over 75% of students at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) come from the 21 Northeast North Carolina Counties (NENC). The citizens of NENC are among the least educated, least skilled and most impoverished. The population is rural, minority, and poor. The per capita personal income of one these counties, Halifax, is $13,810 while the state average per capita income is $30,000. (North Carolina 2000 Census) About 19.4% of families and 23.9% of the population were below the poverty line. Because the majority of our students come from the impoverished and rural community, they are largely first generation college freshmen with no academic or scientific role models. Consequently, they are not motivated to seek to pursue advanced degrees. Thus, low numbers of students in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology and mathematics pursue PhDs in the biomedical/behavioral sciences. The Elizabeth City State University Support Program for Academic and Research Enhancement (E- SPARE) project is designed to assist undergraduates develop competence within their science discipline;confidence in their abilities, resiliency to challenges in the laboratory or in and outside the classroom;and leadership skills. Divided into Lower and Upper Division Sections, the proposed program will provide a strong science curriculum enhanced by well-designed co-curricular activities that will engage participants in the scientific and the research enterprise. These activities include: (1) research opportunities under mentorship of faculty with externally funding at ECSU and research intensive institutions, (2) participation in concurrent supplemental instruction to enhance achievement in the major, (3) special workshops and motivational seminars, (3) in-your-face academic and career advisement, (4) networking through the deliberate interaction of E-SPARE participants with science faculty, successful ECSU students/alumni and prominent visiting scientists, (5) participation in biomedical science seminar series, workshops and scientific research bowl competitions, (6) presenting papers at national science symposia, (7) publishing papers at biomedical science journals, (8) engaging in activities that make each participant very competitive for acceptance into strong PhD programs in the USA. A total of 56 participants will be enrolled over the 4-year funding period with 8 participants in year one and 16 in subsequent years. Expected outcome: At least 49 (75%) will be accepted into MS/PhD programs;28 (50%) enrolling in competitive MS/PhD programs after graduating from ECSU.
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