This project will contribute to the national need for well-educated scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and technicians by supporting the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low-income students with demonstrated financial need at CUNY New York City College of Technology (City Tech), a Hispanic Serving Institution. Over its 5-year duration, this project will fund 40 scholarships per year to students pursuing bachelor's degrees in Applied Chemistry, Applied Computational Physics, Applied Mathematics and Biomedical Informatics or associate's degrees in Computer Science and Chemical Technology. Scholars are eligible for support for up to nine semesters for bachelor's degrees and five semesters for associate's degrees. With the goal of expanding the STEM degree pipeline, this project aims to improve retention and graduation in STEM fields by linking scholarships with effective mandatory support activities, including enhanced academic and professional advising, cohort meetings, undergraduate research experiences, graduate school preparation, and participation in discipline-specific conferences. Project personnel will encourage scholarship recipients to develop both learning cohorts with STEM peers and non-academic endeavors such as enrichment and extracurricular activities designed to foster a connection to the community at large. Because City Tech is a minority-serving institution, this project will impact underrepresented students, especially women, in STEM undergraduate and graduate programs as well as the the New York City workforce. This project is also expected to develop successful evidence-based interventions in support of this larger workforce aim.
Four primary objectives inform this project. First, to recruit students in the targeted majors, focusing on underrepresented students. Second, to leverage scholarships to retain and graduate academically talented, low-income City Tech students. Third, to provide comprehensive support and programmatic activities to promote both timely progress to graduation and professional STEM identity formation. Fourth, to increase the transfer of students from associate to baccalaureate degree programs and beyond. The project will provide five evidence-based types of support to STEM students: a) increased exposure to research experiences; b) participation in a learning community of STEM peers; c) use of both robust peer-mentor counseling and one-on-one faculty mentoring; d) seminars and informal meetings with STEM researchers and professionals (especially emphasizing women and other underrepresented minorities), and e) the development of a website and a blog dedicated to STEM students. In addition, the educational literature can benefit from further studies describing structural factors that foster STEM identities. This project aims to fill this gap by identifying the key characteristics of student experiences in both academic and non-academic areas that support success and contribute to fostering a STEM identity. To ensure that the impact of the project is maximized, an independent external evaluator will conduct both formative and summative project assessments and results will be disseminated at conferences, via peer-reviewed research journals, and through a project website and LinkedIn accounts. This project is funded by NSF's Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics program, which seeks to increase the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. It also aims to improve the education of future STEM workers, and to generate knowledge about academic success, retention, transfer, graduation, and academic/career pathways of low-income students.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.