As a STEMPREP student, Rouse is part of a program that boasts an impressive success rate – 100 percent of STEMPREP project students who finish the program attend college. And 83 percent go on to graduate school to become physicians, pharmacists, dentists, researchers or engineers.

“Being in this program empowers students,” says Charles Knibb, STEMPREP director of academic affairs, an SMU research professor and a former surgeon.

Moses Williams, executive director, founded the program in 1990 when he was director of admissions for Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

“As a gatekeeper, I realized there were not a lot of minorities being considered,” he says. “I wanted to change that.” He compares the program to training young athletes: Identify talent early and then nurture it through practice and coaching.

Eighth-grader Beatriz Coronado of Marietta, Georgia, says she would be spending the summer taking care of her little brothers if she wasn’t at SMU as part of STEMPREP. Instead she recently completed her favorite lab so far, an enzyme-linked immuno-assay simulation that detects and measures antibodies in the blood. She plans to become a family physician.

Dallas eighth-grader Tomisin Ogunfunmi says he didn’t know he could be so independent until he spent six weeks on the SMU campus at STEMPREP last summer. Now he looks forward to next summer when he will work in a Philadelphia university research lab with a scientist as a mentor. He plans to pursue a combination MD/PhD to become a biomedical engineering researcher, possibly at a university.

After participants in the STEMPREP program finish the junior high component, they spend their senior high and college summers working in university, U.S. government and private research laboratories in Philadelphia, Bethesda, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver.

Taisha Husbands, who graduated from SMU in May with psychology and chemistry degrees, joined the STEMPREP program as an eighth-grader.

“I’ve known since I was four that I wanted to be a doctor,” says Husbands, a native of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. “But I come from a family of teachers and police officers, I thought this program would help me reach my goal.”

Husbands starts medical school in August at the University of Southern California. In the meantime, this summer she is teaching science to current STEMPREP seventh and eighth graders and lives with them in a residence hall on campus. She hasn’t forgotten what it is like to be an eighth-grader wrestling with college-level material and created an evening study session for students who wanted extra help.

“When I was in eighth grade, one of the STEMPREP teachers sat down with me at lunch every day to help me with the material,” she says. “Helping these students is one of those pay it forward things.”

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.

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