Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) proposes an alliance with the Choctaw Nation, and 10 regional high schools that aims to engage, recruit, and retain Native American/Choctaw post-secondary students in computing. 80,000 members of the Choctaw Nation live in a rural area of 15,000 square miles, many of them in extreme poverty. SOSU is the only accredited, 4 year college in the area, and though it serves many Choctaw students, few are enrolled in the CS/CIS programs and even fewer graduate from them (typically just 1 or 2 a year). This project focuses on high school students and assists them in pre-college preparation and the transition to college. Its centerpiece is a 2-semester, dual-credit, concurrent enrollment course in computer fluency and basic computer science concepts. The course will be free to participants. Due to the large distances between high schools and the university, the course will be taught in a hybrid manner, utilizing both face-to-face and online instruction. The face-to-face piece will be done by local teachers trained by SOSU staff; the online piece will be done by SOSU adjunct faculty. Orientations for students will involve their parents, extended family members, and tribal elders; monthly newsletters will help to maintain interest. As an added incentive, each participating high school will be given up to 10 computers for a distance learning lab, providing the only access to modern technology for many of these students. To further entice the students, the program will include Microsoft Office Software certification. Thus, participating students will get a marketable skill along with strong grounding in basic CS concepts, instruction on career opportunities, training in academic skills, experience on a web-based project, and mentoring. A Choctaw Native working with the program will provide an accessible role model. The program was developed in cooperation with the Choctaw Nation. Choctaw students who successfully complete the program will be eligible to receive a $2000 year-long scholarship provided by the Nation if they enroll at SOSU in CS/CIS.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Computer and Network Systems (CNS)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Janice E. Cuny
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Southeastern Oklahoma State University
United States
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