Underrepresented Students in STEM (U-SIS) aims to increase the retention and completion of students from groups underrepresented in science and health disciplines. The program includes students, faculty, and staff from the College of Science.

At UVU, as at most universities in the United States, several groups of people are underrepresented in the science talent pool, including women, African Americans, Native Americans, Alaska natives, Hispanics, native Hawaiians, and LBGTQ+ students. Individuals from these groups are not only underrepresented among university STEM students but also among STEM and health professions. Correcting this underrepresentation will boost the science economy and the quality of healthcare.

U-SIS supports students who identify with underrepresented groups through events that help students develop supportive social networks and access mentorship from upper-level students, staff, and faculty with similar backgrounds. This support will produce a more inclusive and level playing field for students pursuing science degrees. The program will also create a better understanding of the beliefs, experiences, and needs of science students from underrepresented groups.

U-SIS hopes to change the demographic makeup of students completing science degrees.

The Need We Have

Barriers to science must be dismantled by all levels of the scientific community, including scientists, science educators, and student scientists. U-SIS aims to take steps to empower historically underrepresented students to succeed and persist in STEM. We can share our life experiences to help others navigate their early college careers.

Many STEM students experience barriers to success because of their gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. These barriers include a lack of role models with whom they can identify and negative interactions that highlight a sense of not belonging. Many underrepresented students experience imposter syndrome because of these barriers. U-SIS aims to dismantle these barriers by providing students with social networking opportunities and mentoring relationships.

Underrepresented students may also experience obstacles related to environmental and socioeconomic factors that come with pursuing a STEM degree. Family, academic mindsets, and attitudes toward STEM careers can also be obstacles.

In a 2020 study from the International Journal of STEM Education, Kricorian et al. interviewed women and ethnic minorities to understand better the factors that drive students from underrepresented groups to participate in STEM fields. Of 48 students surveyed, all were pursuing STEM degrees, 71% were female, and nearly all (96%) identified as ethnic minorities. Most reported knowing someone of the same gender (68%) or ethnicity (66%) with a STEM career who served as a role model. The majority (54%) stated that meeting a STEM professional of their gender and ethnicity would encourage them to pursue STEM. A similar percentage (56%) believed that media exposure to gender- and ethnicity-matched STEM professionals would be effective encouragement. Most (73%) demonstrated a growth mindset and had strong family support to pursue STEM (68%). Only two-thirds (66%) felt they belonged in STEM careers, and just 30% agreed that people in their STEM classes are a lot like them.

This study speaks to the possible influence U-SIS can have in affecting such statistics at UVU.

  1. Empathy

    Being in a group setting where students can develop a learning environment based on cultural responsiveness and understanding i.e. sensitivity towards barriers that students face in helping them to realize more agency within the university setting.

  2. Student Learning Participation

    We hope to relay ideals like past programs such as Student-centered learning (SCL) that have shown increased retention and success historically with HU students.

  3. Student Empowerment

    We will strive to equip students with tools for breaking down psychological barriers by encouraging student empowerment such as University provided mental, academic, and peer counseling.

  4. Diverse Perspectives

    Show underrepresented students a diverse perspective on science itself lending to a connection between what they are learning in the experience of those who have gone through the process by mentors that can broaden the scientific perspective and discuss their own experiences by working with diverse leaders.

  5. Resources and Opportunities

    Assist students with navigating educational systems by connecting them with resources and opportunities that remove barriers or elevate their STEM concepts.

  6. Engagement through Practical Experience

    Engagement becomes more pronounced when coupled with practical experiences, which in turn, has positive effects on the success of HU students in their discipline of choice.

  7. Inclusivity

    We change how HU students see their idea of fitting into the majority and show them how science education can be more inclusive in their cultural values.

  8. Strive for Excellence

    Require constantly shifting our perspectives, reframing our ideas, and striving for excellence. The mindset should be applied to our strategies, and we will be committing to ongoing equity education and accountability in supporting underrepresented scholars

We hope that you will support and join in our efforts to change today for a better tomorrow. Please feel free to contact any of the organizers at any time for additional questions and ways that you can participate and join in our ongoing efforts.



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