In an effort to increase the number of underrepresented and low-income students who enter STEM fields, the University of Cincinnati (UC) kicked off its Scholars Academy bridge program in June in partnership with Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati.
Through the program, students at the predominantly African American high school who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM fields are immersed in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines in order to prepare them for college.
“Our nation’s capacity to be competitive depends on our ability to nurture the next generation of scientists and engineers,” says UC President Santa J. Ono. “Our Hughes program allows us to do this right in our own backyard and to do so with a diverse set of students from our city’s core neighborhoods.”
In June, the first cohort of students — which included 12 juniors and seniors from Hughes — attended the three-week bridge program at UC. While there, they experienced problem-solving and critical skills classes, met with and listened to STEM professionals, learned about career options, and created a project with the Design, Architecture, Art and Planning College, among other activities.
Following that, students will participate in an internship and attend enrichment classes and programs at UC throughout the subsequent academic year.
The collaboration marks the first “intentional” partnership between UC and Hughes — which has been a STEM high school since 2009 — says Hughes principal Kathy Wright. By collaborating with Hughes, UC is able to work toward its goal of narrowing the widening college-completion gap between high- and low-income students.
According to a 2013 report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy and the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, students from high-income families were eight times more likely to obtain a bachelor’s degree by age 24 than those from low-income families.
The Scholars Academy will eventually expand to include year-round support for Hughes students and include even younger students.