Fordham University wants to become a national leader in producing minority students who pursue graduate programs in STEM fields by breaking into the national rankings compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
To reach the goal, the university is participating in CSTEP, a statewide program that stands for Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program. It is designed to groom minority students for graduate-level programs in the scientific, technical, health and licensed fields where they are largely underrepresented. At Fordham, the program supports 200 undergraduates, mostly of African-American and Latino descent, on the university’s three campuses, according to Michael A. Molina, the program director at Fordham.
Assisting him are five administrators and counselors who act as liaisons to the students, one per incoming class.
Molina noted that about 35 percent of college diplomas in the United States go to graduates of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. In China, India, Japan and Korea, Molina said, STEM graduates are closer to 70 percent of the total.
The United States has maintained its leadership in the world not as a manufacturing capital, but as the capital of technological and innovative ideas, Molina said.
“Now we’re in danger of losing that edge because we’re not producing enough graduates in areas of STEM study,” he said.
He said CSTEP offers:
· a five-week freshman summer program to help students bridge the transition from high school to college with classes in chemistry, philosophy and pre-calculus.
· review courses in biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics.
· career counseling and exposure to CSTEP alumni..
· paid research internships with Fordham faculty.
Christie-Belle Garcia, a counselor, said CSTEP helps to boost student morale.
“If our students feel discouraged, we work to put them back in tune,” Garcia said. “We offer them perspective, to surround them with people who are like-minded to keep them from drowning. In our office, it goes beyond academics. It’s an environment of family.”
To make the AAMC rankings, Fordham’s CSTEP program must raise its average postgraduate acceptance rate of six student scholars to at least 11, Molina said.
“Ten or 15 students per year doesn’t sound like a lot, does it?” Molina said. “But that’s how great the challenge is for certain minorities to succeed in these fields.”
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