SAN ANGELO, Texas – Angelo State University has been awarded a $4.77 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a new project designed to enhance ASU’s enrollment, retention and graduation rates for Hispanic, low-income and other under-represented student groups in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to a release on Wednesday, October 20th.

The release also states, the grant, awarded through the Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM and Articulation (HSI-STEM) Program, will fund a five-year project titled “Acceso Critico a Rutas para El Consorcio de Ensenanza de Ciencias de la Investigacion” or “Critical Pathway to STEM (ISEC).” The goal of the project is to increase the number of Angelo State STEM graduates from under-represented groups by 5% each year for an overall 25% increase by the end of the grant.

ASU has received $999,706 to fund the first year of the project, with the remainder of the $4.77 million to be awarded over the subsequent four years as progress is made toward meeting the project goals. The project will be overseen by Jessica Gooch, director of HSI grant and special projects in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

“I am so excited to work on this project and bring significant opportunities to our Ram Family community,” Gooch said. “Supporting our STEM students, both in and out of the classroom, so they can walk across the stage successfully at graduation, is our goal. Our entire team is committed to making an impact on our students and our campus.”

Components of the ISEC project include:

  • Installing a wrap-around support system that will coordinate STEM faculty, peer mentors, academic life coaches and ASU Counseling Services to support STEM students’ academic and psychological needs, particularly students from under-represented groups.
  • Transforming the existing academic pipeline in the ASU College of Science and Engineering into a guided critical pathway to create greater flexibility and a “familia” environment critical for Hispanic and other under-represented students’ success.
  • Implementing a RamReady transfer program that immerses STEM students from two-year colleges into ASU and expedites their progression to a four-year degree by connecting them with advisors, aiding in enrollment processes, providing summer bridge opportunities and introducing them to the wrap-around support system.
  • Integrating 3-D holographic imagery technology into STEM courses and outreach programs to excite and prepare students for a future filled with holographic technology. This will also be used for K-12 STEM outreach through ASU’s Mayer Museum and Planetarium.

Each of these components is designed to remove barriers that may discourage Hispanic, low-income and other under-represented student groups from enrolling or transferring into STEM majors at ASU and persisting through to graduation.

Angelo State has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education since 2010. For the 2021-22 academic year, ASU’s undergraduate Hispanic enrollment reached 40.52%, and encouraging Hispanic and other under-represented student groups to pursue their STEM interests remains a university priority.

Earlier this year, several ASU faculty were also awarded grants from the National Science Foundation and Astrophysical Research Consortium, totaling over $320,000, to fund additional projects designed to increase student diversity and opportunities for under-represented student groups in ASU’s STEM majors.

Courtesy: Angelo State University Office of Communications and Marketing