1. Maria Santisteban
  2. https://www.uncp.edu/profile/dr-maria-s-santisteban
  3. Professor
  4. COMPASS2 Program
  5. https://www.uncp.edu/departments/biology/compass-scholarship-program
  6. UNC Pembroke
  1. Rebecca Bullard-Dillard
  2. https://www.uncp.edu/
  3. Professor
  4. COMPASS2 Program
  5. https://www.uncp.edu/departments/biology/compass-scholarship-program
  6. UNC Pembroke
  1. Rita Hagevik
  2. https://www.uncp.edu/profile/dr-rita-hagevik
  3. Professor, Dir. of Graduate Sc. Education
  4. COMPASS2 Program
  5. https://www.uncp.edu/departments/biology/compass-scholarship-program
  6. UNC Pembroke
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Maria Santisteban

    Maria Santisteban

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 9, 2022 | 04:21 p.m.

    Hello and thank you for stopping by and watching our video: “A COMPASS to Unlock Access to STEM Majors and Broaden Participation at UNC Pembroke

    Our S-STEM project is in its second year, and it outlines what we have found is working for us so far! We have enrolled two of the three staggered cohorts that will comprise the final group of 30 scholars. Our group of low-income students is currently made of 14 females, 4 males, majoring in Biology (12), Chemistry (3), Physics (1) or are double majors (2). Sixty one percent are from underrepresented groups (28% Native American, 22% African American, 11% Hispanic, 18% Caucasian). We continue to focus our efforts in 1) opening the eyes of scholars to career opportunities with a STEM degree, 2) showing them role models in the sciences, 3) developing science identity, and 4) building an inclusive community of scholars and mentors.  

    We are very interested in starting a conversation especially with those who face similar challenges as we do in a rural community serving historically marginalized groups, but we love to hear anyone’s comments on:

    • What strategies have you found most useful to develop science identity in your students?
    • How do you effectively mentor the underrepresented student who needs extra emotional support? Specially after the last two years of pandemic
    • Do your students lack role models of scientist in their lives? What strategies do you use to compensate for that?
    • How do you effectively recruit and identify entering freshman that are genuinely interested in science?
    • How do you encourage the student that has worked every summer for money, to participate in summer research without feeling intimidated or like an imposter?

    Is there anything else that you might like to tell us that you have found to be most effective in supporting undergraduate students in STEM?

    Thank you so much! All of your comments are SUPER important and helpful for us!

       
     
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    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Stephen Alkins Ph.D.

    Stephen Alkins Ph.D.

    Facilitator
    Diversity, Equity, Access, Inclusion, and Belonging Officer
    May 10, 2022 | 10:25 a.m.

    Great and impactful program! To address one of your inquiries, so much of what goes on in higher education is about teaching students how to navigate "traditional" institutions and frameworks of STEM.  To what degree are you acknowledging diverse cultural epistemologies within STEM?  For example, are you exposing students to decolonized STEM education practices, indigenous ways of knowing, and critical frameworks that also allow students to embrace and leverage their own cultural assets?  This would help further develop STEM identity and cultivate belonging.

     
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    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Rita Hagevik

    Rita Hagevik

    Co-Presenter
    Professor, Dir. of Graduate Sc. Education
    May 10, 2022 | 05:26 p.m.

    Since we are at a minority serving institution there are many programs in place at the University to address diversity and culture which is great for our students. We have started using mindfulness activities to address imposter syndrome in our weekly Friday meetings and this seems to be helping. But you are correct in that the students do lack confidence in their own abilities due to microaggressions throughout their life times. 

     
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    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: John Kaup

    John Kaup

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 10, 2022 | 05:19 p.m.

    What a great program.  It certainly sounds like you have made great progress in your first two years.  Our 8 day summer bridge experience (SAFE Passage) certainly helps students to form a cohort, engage with a broad range of faculty (15+ faculty over the 8 day program) and be comfortable starting on their college journey in the fall.   This summer experience paired with enhanced advising seems to be helping the students seek out additional opportunities.  While our program is still in its early stages (just one year into our 5 year award), 9 out of our 10 cohort 1 students (rising sophomores) are participating in 10 week paid research experiences this summer.   We are excited to see what they accomplish this summer and next academic year when they share their work through conference/meeting presentations.

     
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    Kelly Greene
  • Icon for: Kelly Greene

    Kelly Greene

    Chief Operations Officer
    May 12, 2022 | 03:16 p.m.

    I would agree, John! As a first gen student, I was so thankful for the bridge program I was able to participate in as an Upward Bound student. This program shows the support necessary for students to be prepared for the next level. Thank you for the work you are doing as well!

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Rita Hagevik

    Rita Hagevik

    Co-Presenter
    Professor, Dir. of Graduate Sc. Education
    May 10, 2022 | 05:27 p.m.

    The summer bridge experience sounds really great and yes I agree that mentoring with personal advising has also made a huge difference in our program too! How will you place the students and what type of research experiences do you envision the students taking part in?

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: John Kaup

    John Kaup

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 10, 2022 | 05:38 p.m.

    During the summer bridge experience, students rotate through 4 different research experiences and get to spend 2+ hours with each group (normally engaging with the faculty member for a short period and with the undergraduate research students during the rest of the time).  That early experience and encouraging the students to reach out to faculty and inquire about research opportunities for the following summer leads them to interview with faculty and get selected.  We have certainly guided the students to some extent (knowing which faculty are more or less open to working with rising sophomores) but they had to take some significant initiative to land these opportunities.  They are working in chemistry(4), physics(1), neuroscience(3)  and Biology(1) this summer.  Super proud of these students!

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Maria Santisteban

    Maria Santisteban

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 10, 2022 | 07:20 p.m.

    That SAFE passage experience sounds phenomenal. What a great way of exposing students early to research and encourage them to further explore that on their own terms later. We have found that it is a bit intimidating for our average freshman to inquire about research opportunities, it takes them time, they may not feel ready, but it is also fear of trying something they may not feel they are ready and/or they have not found that spark of interest yet. Your summer program being a required step into the program makes that gentle push into research gentler. And as you said, it helps creating bonds within the cohort.

    We have summer bootcamps (math and chemistry) for the entering cohorts (the week before classes start) but they are geared to improve fluency in those subjects, considering the wide range of preparation of the high school students coming into the program. It does help with the cohort bonding but I really like that idea of the summer rotations to get students start smoothly into the research. You mentioned that students spend 2+ hours with each of 4 faculty, I assume the majority spend much more time since that is a 8 day program? Or maybe they have common skills, ethical research conduct, etc.? 

     
     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Rita Hagevik

    Rita Hagevik

    Co-Presenter
    Professor, Dir. of Graduate Sc. Education
    May 10, 2022 | 05:52 p.m.

    Yes that sounds appropriate to me and a very good plan as this might be overwhelming for younger students too!

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Gregory Goins

    Gregory Goins

    Facilitator
    Professor and Chair
    May 12, 2022 | 09:56 a.m.

    I really enjoyed this video because the explanation of the program and what it is and what you guys are doing was great, but the students themselves really stood out to me. Hearing that first one, Dean, share his story about imposter syndrome and how this program ahs aided with that was striking and really proved the good you guys are doing. Great work!

     
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    Rita Hagevik
    Maria Santisteban
  • Icon for: Maria Santisteban

    Maria Santisteban

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 11:22 a.m.

    Thanks Greg! It is indeed inspiring stories like Dean's that make all we do worthwhile. As he said in the video, he came into college with only one goal in mind: going into medical school. Now he is enjoying doing research. He will spend his summer at UNC-CH under the SPIRE summer program and he is really flourishing in many levels. He has found friends in COMPASS2, has a terrific relationship with his mentor, has enjoyed every minute of the conferences he attended, especially his first in person NC Academy of Science meeting, and is helping him to see that he belongs into STEM. We have been laser focused on this kind of student, which in our institution is quite common, who has not had much exposure to scientists or have had the opportunity to conduct scientific experiments or part take of research projects. If they are good students, they have been advised to go into health careers. They need information, they need to see others like them doing science, they need to gain confidence. It is in them, and we are just helping them discover their potential and providing opportunities.

    We have work on the pipeline in this rural region of North Carolina. I am the district director of the NC Student Academy of Science and we don't see the numbers of middle and high school students in competitions as we see in other regions of the state. But we are making progress :) 

    Thanks for your support!

       
     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Kenne Dibner

    Kenne Dibner

    Facilitator
    Senior Program Officer
    May 12, 2022 | 02:05 p.m.

    Thanks so much for this presentation! I wonder if you might be a bit more explicit about how you are measuring success amongst your student population? Do you have any early evaluation information you might be able to share? Given the wealth of new programs like these at IHEs, I'm interested to hear what aspects of your programming are really working, and what you think might be less important. Thank you!

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Maria Santisteban

    Maria Santisteban

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 06:13 p.m.

    Thanks, Kenne! Great question and one that we ask ourselves constantly: what is working, what needs adjustments, what is not as important. We have an external evaluator that conducts focus groups twice a year and individual interviews with students at mid-year. Students also fill out surveys about all the aspects of the program, and students and mentors are surveyed on their mentoring experience.  The parts that are really working are the:

    • one-on-one mentoring. Mentors are this figure that students can count on for support and guidance not only academically and career wise (they help selecting courses, tracks, advise on and help finding internships, and so much more) but emotionally. Students report being able to open up to their mentors and finding "a second parent" sometimes in them. Mentors are typically the first to alert about concerns on student well-being. Weekly meetings with mentors have been particularly important during the pandemic. Mentors also report this experience making them reflect on their mentoring style and grow.
    • financial aid. Point blank, like one of the students says on the video, many could not attend college without the funds provided.
    • panels of STEM professionals, graduate school administrators, and students and site visits to STEM companies and graduate schools. These have been the most instrumental in opening the students’ eyes to careers in STEM, what makes someone a strong candidate for graduate school or particular occupation, and what is day-to-day life of these figures, challenges and triumphs. There is nothing more real to our students that hearing firsthand from those in those positions (graduate students, STEM occupations) and visiting the actual sites. It is especially impactful for them to see alumni in those places (graduate school, STEM occupation) and realizing that they look like them. 
    • Student lounge. This has proved more important than we could have imagined for providing a space to study alone or together, to retrieve, to rest, a place to their own. It helps strengthening the cohort community. 
    • Having a community and being part of group has helped students feel integrated. Our recent weekend long retreat was a fantastic way of bringing together current scholars, alumni, and mentors.  

    Things that are in constant flux for improvement are tutoring/study halls. We want to provide the academic support that the students need, especially those incoming freshmen with a wide level of preparation. Sometimes it is hard to find the most suitable tutor (needs change from semester to semester) or to get students buying into the study hall idea as not just to learn but to teach others and reinforce knowledge. Some programs have cohorts that take courses together and that sounds ideal, but we have to find a formula that works for us; we have many tracks and concentrations and students like that freedom of selecting their courses at their own pace but we could consider the cohorts attending classes together in the first year or two.  We have had success using more senior, strong students in the program to tutor other students. It works well for both parts.

    I would not say that there are less important things, but some students may say that our weekly general meeting (aka "class") "takes away from their time". Students are required to register for this one credit hour class as a way to ensure we have a time that we all can be together that is used for professional development, panels, seminars, metacognition skills, mindfulness, etc. and of course logistics. That is followed by the tutoring/study hall. The perception, by some students, that this takes away from their time is a function of whatever pressures they are under at that time and of course the perceived gain (or lack of) of what we do during the course. In general, they buy into it as they see the benefits, which include getting together with this group of friends that are becoming their support net. 

    As for our research questions we have been using some instruments to measure students' "science identity" at various points and observe how it develops for the different students. We also are trying to tease apart the financial support from other aspects of the program in their overall success. 

    Thanks again for watching our video and for your insight!

       
     
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    Maria (Mia) Ong
    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Rita Hagevik

    Rita Hagevik

    Co-Presenter
    Professor, Dir. of Graduate Sc. Education
    May 13, 2022 | 08:54 a.m.

    I agree that science capitol and science identity are critical. Yes we support students in getting a STEM degree but what happens after that when they enter STEM careers. Are they prepared academically, professionally, and socially to navigate the STEM fields? This is something that requires further investigation.

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Rita Hagevik

    Rita Hagevik

    Co-Presenter
    Professor, Dir. of Graduate Sc. Education
    May 13, 2022 | 08:55 a.m.

    Hi Greg,

    Thank you for your comments and it is great to see you again! I just saw Katrina at another meeting! So fun! Rita

     
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    Rita Hagevik
  • Icon for: Maria (Mia) Ong

    Maria (Mia) Ong

    Researcher
    May 14, 2022 | 01:10 p.m.

    Wow, the student testimonies are so powerful here! They speak to a winning combination of funding, research opportunities, mentoring, and cohort building. I hope you will be able to turn COMPASS into a longitudinal implementation program and study. Meanwhile, how are you preparing students to enter predominantly white graduate programs or workplaces where these supports are not necessarily in place?

  • Icon for: Maria Santisteban

    Maria Santisteban

    Lead Presenter
    Professor
    May 14, 2022 | 04:02 p.m.

    Thanks for your comments, Mia! Yes, the students' testimonies are really re-affirming of what COMPASS2 is about. 

    One thing that is preparing them for that next step in the workplace or graduate school is learning first hand from people like them that are in those positions. COMPASS2 scholars write reflections after every panel, and every site visit and we learn what they find valuable, informative, new, shocking, intimidating, reassuring, and how that new knowledge has changed or potentially will change their approach to that next step. It is sometimes interesting how a student will make note of something that may have been said in other panels or heard in other visits many times before, like for example, that one does not have to pay to graduate school but there are a number of ways through which one will get a stipend. Reading through those reflections and noticing that has made me reflect on it. I concluded that the student might only have registered/heard the message when he/she finally was ready for it. So we keep sending the messages in many ways, under many formats, and through different faces. 

    And it is true that some supports won't be there in the same way that they are within COMPASS2, but we speak at length about the importance of mentors -- and again they hear from panelists, graduate students and STEM professionals. That wherever they'll go they should find themselves a mentor or mentors. 

    We also believe that developing that STEM identity although will not provide a shinning armor against everything, it will certainly help them walk more steadily as the find their place in the new occupation. 

         
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