News

Millions from DoD go to this university’s STEM program

By Meris Stansbury
July 16th, 2015

Eighty-three percent of these STEM program participants pursue graduate school.

STEM-DOD-million

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently awarded the STEMPREP Project at Southern Methodist University a $3.78 million grant to support its goal of increasing the number of minorities in STEM fields.

The grant follows a $2.6 million grant in 2014.

According to a report just released from the Executive Office of the President, 21 percent of Hispanic men and 28 percent of black men have a college degree by their late twenties compared to nearly half of white men. The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau reports that African Americans make up 11 percent of the U.S. workforce but only 6 percent of STEM workers. Hispanics make up 15 percent of the U.S. workforce, but just 7 percent of the STEM workforce.

To create more diversity in STEM fields, the STEMPREP Project, based at the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University (SMU), recruits bright, science-minded middle school students for the first phase of the 10-year program. 100 seventh and eighth grade minority students live on the SMU campus through August 1 for six weeks of college-level biology, chemistry, statistics and research writing and presentation classes, laboratory techniques course, and the creation of a final in-depth research presentation on a disease. Each day begins with class at 8:30 a.m and wraps up after study hall at 8:30 p.m.

Eighth-grader Walter Victor Rouse, II wants to be a heart surgeon and professional basketball player to honor his grandfather, Loyola basketball standout Vic Rouse, who died from heart disease before Rouse was born. Vic Rouse was an honor student at Loyola University in 1963 when his rebound and basket in overtime clinched the NCAA basketball championship for Loyola. The elder Rouse died in 1999 at age 56.

(Next page: Students examples of the program’s success)


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