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Board 312: Implementing an Ecosystem to Expand Capabilities and Opportunities for STEM-Scholars

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Carla Lopez Del Puerto University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Carla López del Puerto is a professor in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez (UPRM). She received her Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Saint Louis University in 2009, M.S. in Construction Management

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Monica Alfaro


Carmen M. Bellido

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As an education professor working in the Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) since the year 2000, Dr. Bellido has taught the following courses: Human Development, Educational Psychology, Learning Evaluation; Theory and Methodology in the Teaching of History

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Matias J. Cafaro

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Bernadette M. Delgado University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez

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The population of students in Puerto Rico that has enrolled in higher education within the last six years has been severely affected by a compound effect of the many major humanitarian crises including a deteriorated economy since the 2006 Great Recession, Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, earthquakes in 2019 and 2020, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, and Hurricane Fiona in 2022. To ensure that students can cope with the aftermath of these natural disasters, The Ecosystem to Expand Capabilities and Opportunities for STEM-Scholars (EECOS) was conceived. The program, funded by The National Science Foundation, developed a support ecosystem that consists of three elements: academic support, socio-emotional support, and financial support. This project emphasizes the importance of developing and implementing an ecosystem of support that includes academic and socioemotional support systems, and the validity of the adage that financial aid alone cannot increase student success. The baseline characterization of the strength of these components within a support ecosystem has led to increased student retention and promoted student graduation. EECOS served 65 low-income STEM students from 2018 to 2021. The program has a 96% retention rate and 75% have graduated from their bachelor’s degrees. The results of the evaluation indicate 95% of scholarship recipients indicated a high level of satisfaction with the program and the mentoring received; 68% of scholarship recipients were given counseling services due to emotional stress. This paper provides effective practices and a baseline characterization that can be used by universities to help students overcome the effects of natural disasters and promote student success.

Lopez Del Puerto, C., & Alfaro, M., & Bellido, C. M., & Cafaro, M. J., & Delgado, B. M. (2023, June), Board 312: Implementing an Ecosystem to Expand Capabilities and Opportunities for STEM-Scholars Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42868

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