Attracting Underrepresented pre-College Students to STEM Disciplines

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Stasinos Stavrianeas
Mark Stewart


We present our nascent STEM Access and Training for Underserved Students (STATUS), a model to attract Latinx students first to attend college and second to enter STEM fields. The program consists of a series of hands-on investigative activities in physiology, neuroscience, biophysics, genetics, exercise physiology, biomechanics, environmental science, and psychology aimed primarily at instilling students with a sense of belonging and the excitement of discovery. Each two-hour session consists of a mini-lecture, familiarization with data acquisition systems, the development of a research question and hypothesis, data collection and analysis, and a brief report. Each week students submitted a reflection on the activities and we used these responses to emphasize self-efficacy. One novel aspect of STATUS is the development of College Knowledge, a set of conversational sessions with family members to provide information and resources regarding college admissions, financial aid, campus life, academic requirements, career options, and sources of support. Both students and parents provided enthusiastically positive feedback about their experiences; more importantly, all STATUS participants entered college.

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