Texas Tech professor says representation is key as school awarded $2 million to boost diversity in STEM

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas–  The National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation awarded a $2 million to Texas Tech University grant to boost more diversity in STEM fields.

In 2017, Texas Tech established an alliance with Dallas College El Centro Campus, South Plains College, Texas Southmost College, Texas Tech and the University of North Texas at Dallas. 

In a news release, Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said, “Solving many of today’s complex problems – and those of tomorrow – will require the combined efforts of scholars from varied backgrounds.” 

The heart of the program is uncovering what obstacles minority students are facing in these programs that may be preventing them from being set up for success. In order to find out what are the main challenges the five participating colleges conducted surveys.   

Texas Tech Associate Professor Raegan Higgins said the results of the surveys were insightful and offered a better understanding on what areas students felt were opportunities.

“I say four things came out on top, and the students say that they needed more academic advising and support,” said Higgins. “That includes tutoring, but that’s more STEM-related. They wanted more mentoring, which is peer-to-peer mentoring.”

Higgins said Texas Tech is working closer with the other colleges in order to cultivate more minority representation.

However, Higgins said the goal isn’t just encouraging students to enroll in these programs, but to make sure there is more inclusion. 

“What we’re finding is, if students feel that they belong in a space, then they will excel. So it’s not the academics that are necessarily the only challenge,” Higgins said. “It’s more about having a sense of belonging. So creating this community of STEM scholars across the five institutions.”

All five institutions have the same goal, which is making these fields more diverse and hopefully preventing any student from feeling out of place in the classroom.

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