Some colleges stand out as high-achievers when it comes to minority students graduating in STEM fields. These colleges have some great programs to try and boost the minority grads who want to work in a science, technology, engineering or math based career.
Gear Up is a $5.4 million state funded project dedicated to attracting disadvantaged high schoolers in Baton Rouge and Baker to the STEM fields and higher education.
In 2012, the University also received a $1.3 million grant to establish the National Institutes of Health Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program. The program is a partnership with Baton Rouge Community College to help transfer students succeed in scientific fields.
According to the National Action Council for Minorities Engineering Inc., only 12 percent of African American, Native American, and Latino individuals graduate from college with engineering degrees.
“Entering these fields can be intimidating,” said LaKeitha Poole, coordinator of African American Student Affairs. “Especially if you feel like you might be the only person who looks like you do in class.”
The University’s S-STEM, LA-STEM, and LAMP programs make these scholarships available to underprivileged students. In a study pertaining to increasing access to educational opportunities published by the university in 2011, LSU retained a 34 percent STEM graduation rate between 1998 and 2003. According to the same study, 49 percent of those students were African American.
LSU is a tier one institution and should be more diverse, according to Poole.
Poole also said cultural backgrounds play a significant role in the choices individuals make when they are in college. She questioned whether students are provided with the right tools to make informed decisions about their future while in junior high or high school.
“Overall, we live in a society where we’re trying to get through things quickly, rather than pursuing knowledge,” Poole said.
Offices like the Multicultural Affairs Center and African American Culture Center help students connect with resources to join the STEM community when they arrive at the University.
The University also provides programs such as Recruitment into Engineering of High Ability Minority Students to incoming freshmen of all ethnicities and gender. The camp is sponsored by Shell, Exxonmobil, Dow, and Fluor and exposes new students to potential career paths for STEM graduates.
Students have their own ideas about what makes STEM classrooms unappealing to minority students.
Cedric Williams, a physics and mathematics junior, said the low numbers are related to economic disadvantages.
“There’s a strong limit on education for lots of children, and that already limits the pool,” said Williams.
In his time in the College of Sciences, Williams said he noticed many new students lacking basic mathematical capabilities.