Crystal City, Virginia
April 29, 2018
April 29, 2018
May 2, 2018
Diversity and Undergraduate Education
There are many research studies on women and minorities in STEM focusing on increasing interest at a young age, increasing the pipeline, diversifying pathways, identifying success and retention strategies, and preparing for an engineering career. This paper attempts to add to that body of work by exploring what these students need to be successful upon entering their college study. We present a unique perspective based on interviews with 10 recent STEM graduates from a top-rated engineering program. This paper focuses on their success stories, and their pathway to surviving and thriving in a campus environment with limited diversity. This study was completed at a small private engineering institution in the Midwest with an approximate enrollment of 2300, 25% of which are women and less than 8% underrepresented students of color. Such a small diverse population presents special challenges for students from diverse backgrounds. With limited opportunities to see or connect with others like themselves, it is challenging to experience a sense of belonging, community, support or mentorship. This may be exacerbated by inadequate academic preparation and minimal information on what to expect on campus. These ten recent graduates shared information on their backgrounds, experiences and their advice to other aspiring students from diverse backgrounds. The students were diverse based on their gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic background or first generation college status. The interviews revealed the critical resources, coping mechanisms and strategies embraced by these students. This paper will present the results of these interviews, lessons learned, and helpful insights to be utilized by stakeholders to recruit, develop and retain diverse students, and by diverse students entering their STEM field of study.
Berry, C. A., & Fenn, J. (2018, April), STEM Success Stories: Strategies for Women and Minorities to Thrive, Not Just Survive, in Engineering Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--29578
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