The University of New Orleans has received a nearly $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support students who have financial need and show academic promise in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The grant will fund at least 18 scholarships over five years for low-income students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in computer science, chemistry and biological sciences.
The NSF’s “Early Engagement for Entering Freshman Science Majors” project explores learning environments to increase the persistence and graduation rates of STEM majors at highly diverse institutions.
“The University of New Orleans has many academically talented students who are the first in their families to attend college,” said Wendy Schluchter, professor and chair of biological sciences, and the grant’s principal investigator. “This project builds upon infrastructure that we have put in place through our focus on retention in STEM. We can leverage partnerships with local companies who provide training and internship programs for students and utilize our faculty who have active research programs in these areas. Pairing the scholarships with these training opportunities integrated into their educational experience will be truly a game-changer for these students.”
The goal of the project is to improve academic outcomes for STEM students by providing a network of comprehensive support, engagement activities, and internships and research opportunities. The project also seeks to enhance career and graduate school success through mentoring and career training, as well as increasing student confidence and preparedness to pursue a career in a scientific field.
The project will test both existing on-campus support strategies as well as new interventions. It is up to the project team at the University of New Orleans to determine which interventions work best to ensure that the participating students succeed. Some of the strategies include the use of faculty and peer mentors, enrolling the student scholars in common sections of student support classes and academic year enrichment activities.