Building Pathways into the Geosciences for an Hispanic Community of Learners in El Paso

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), with an enrollment of about 15,000 students of which 70% are Hispanic and 10% are Mexican Nationals, is one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions in the country. The demographics of the UTEP student body (85% of whom come from the El Paso region) reflect those of the dominantly Hispanic metroplex of more than two million inhabitants on both sides of the US-Mexican border that the university serves. Thus, the characteristics of the community give UTEP advantages in recruiting minority students into the geosciences. UTEP has both MS and Ph.D. programs in Geological Sciences.

This project expands minority participation in the geosciences at the university by increasing the number of Hispanic students who major in either Geological Sciences or in a new interdisciplinary program in Environmental Sciences. It proposes to build a community of aspiring geoscientists in El Paso by establishing an outreach program to enhance awareness of the geosciences among local high school students. The program offers stipends to college students in exchange for progress towards a bachelors degree in Geological or Environmental Sciences and participation in research with geoscience faculty and graduate students. The centerpiece of the outreach program is a two-week summer camp for high school juniors that introduces students and teachers to a variety of topics in the geosciences and demonstrates how the biology, chemistry, and physics covered in high school courses integrates with geoscience. Students are encouraged to enroll in introductory environmental science or geology as freshmen and given the opportunity to serve as peer mentors in subsequent summer programs.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Directorate for Geosciences (GEO)
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Jill L. Karsten
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University of Texas at El Paso
United States
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