Enhancing University Accessibility and Career Development through Mentoring of Underrepresented Student Populations in the Sacramento Area

The objective of this proposal is to enrich a ‘College Access through Mentoring’ program with 9th-12th grade students of Encina High School in the Sacramento San Juan School District.  The proposed activities will enhance youth education in earth sciences and S.T.E.M. disciplines and provide university access to underrepresented students through mentorship programs with UCD graduate and undergraduate students.

Program Motivation & Goals:

Mentoring in science is fundamental to guide students from socio-economically challenged backgrounds towards higher education at the college and university levels.  High school students are in clear need for cross-disciplinary training and career guidance through mentorship programs to stimulate interest in the field of earth sciences and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.) disciplines.

A continued precipitous drop in engineering, scientific and aerospace undergraduate and graduate enrollments over the last several years forces governmental agencies to focus on innovative programs to attract high school students to higher education.  In order to remain the leader in aeronautic and engineering innovation, NASA needs to establish high profile STEM science learning at high schools.

Sacramento communities in the San Juan School District consists of a high population of underrepresented African American, Hispanic and socioeconomically disadvantaged families.  The majority of young students from these groups do not excel their education to college or university levels.  The major reason for this lies in the lack of attention provided to the development of long-term, strategic efforts targeted at cultivating interest for college degree programs.  The goal of the proposed mentoring program is to foster and sustain prolonged interest and stewardship in earth sciences and STEM education disciplines to facilitate hands-on education and develop a roadmap for college access.  Specifically, the four major goals are:

1.                   Development of a relationship between undergraduate and graduate students of mutual benefit with underrepresented youth in the Sacramento region

2.                   Enhance earth science and S.T.E.M. education in local high school settings

3.                   Increase the opportunities for students from underrepresented communities in the greater Sacramento area to access college and university degree programs

4.                   Incorporate community service and outreach into the undergraduate and graduate education experience at UC Davis