The proposed program, entitled BASE (Broadening Access to Science Education), will offer an annual two-week residential summer science enrichment program on the Fairfield University campus for 24 young women who are rising juniors and seniors from our neighboring city of Bridgeport, CT, a city comprised of many health disparity populations and some of the worst poverty in the nation. The program will include three key components. The first component is the Research Immersion Experience, a weeklong scientific research experience that will engage students in exciting faculty-led research projects assisted by current undergraduate science majors. Projects will be based on faculty research expertise, covering topics in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, neuroscience, psychology, mathematics, and engineering. Students will be exposed to science content, methodology, data collection and analysis, and quantitative reasoning, while receiving individual mentorship by female scientist role models at both the faculty and undergraduate level. Students will continue exploring their research topics in the second week through writing, reading, and discussion, with the guidance of their undergraduate counselors, culminating in formal student research presentations on the last day of the camp. The second component will be the Science and Health Careers Exploration, which will take place in the first two days of the second camp week. This will expose students to various careers in science, technology, and healthcare, and the academic paths required to get there. It will include presentations by faculty and professionals in STEM and healthcare careers, and mentorship on academic majors, courses, skill sets, and organizations that can support them in these pursuits. The final component of the program is the College Admissions Counseling, which will be a two-day set of activities to follow the career exploration component. In collaboration with our Office of Undergraduate Admissions, we will educate students about the process and requirements for admission to college, financial aid opportunities, as well as engaging students in mock interviews and essay writing. Also included will be a student/parent information session, to inform parents and integrate them into the process. Continued mentorship and access will be provided to students after the camp through a resource website with contacts and information on organizations, programs, and career paths introduced in the camp. Together, BASE camp will provide a significant experience that excites and informs students about the process and promise of science, and inspires them to pursue science-based careers to address the growing challenges facing health disparity populations.
The proposed program will offer unique hands-on research and mentorship opportunities to students from Bridgeport, CT, who represent many health disparity populations and have limited access to science experiences and role models. The program seeks to excite students from these populations about science and attract them into science and health career paths in an effort to increase their participation in addressing public health issues.