Best Practices for Recruiting and Retaining Minority Students to Natural Science Diversity Through Informal Programs: A Case Study From the “Reach-Up” At East Carolina University

Monday, September 9, 2013: 1:00 PM
Marriott Ballroom C (The Marriott Little Rock)
Anthony S. Overton , Department of Biology, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Rhea Miles , Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Higher learning, private and public corporations and organizations, and professional associations have a renewed interest in the best recruitment and retention practices and programs to prepare ethnically and racially diverse students.  Diversity has a positive impact on the workplace, increases competitiveness of corporations in the global market, and improves education in the college classroom. Attracting minorities to the sciences has not been the challenge.  Attracting this group to the Natural sciences is challenging, because traditionally qualified members are usually directed towards the professional programs (Medicine and Dentistry). I present a case study from the “Reach-up” Program at East Carolina University. This program targeted gifted secondary education minorities from the rural areas of Eastern North Carolina. The program was based around STEM disciplines.  Aquatics and Water Resources was the general theme of the program and all activities were centered around chemical, biological, and geological processes in the aquatic realm. Students participated in activities and learning modules designed by research scientists along with scientists from the Department of Mathematics and Science Education at ECU. This included a 4 week summer program, during the school year meetings, tutorial sessions, and participation in the local and regional science fairs.  We also created an environment where the program participants directly interacted with scientists, professionals in the business community, as well as the undergraduate and graduate science majors. Most importantly, we made sure that the participants in the Reach Up program we aware of the many career opportunities in science.