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Partnership with Center for Research and Engagement in STEM Education

STEM Cafès were held at local high schools to engage students in discussions about undergraduate research, college life, and career opportunities. Undergraduate STEM majors from CSUSM led the informal lunchtime programs and provided resources in a relaxed environment to students who had been admitted for fall 2022 at CSUSM.

The program launched in spring 2022 and outreach sessions were held at high schools with Hispanic enrollments of 38-78% including San Marcos, Mission Hills, Vista, and Rancho Buena Vista high schools reaching. A total of 1,600 students attended the STEM Cafès.  In addition, an online outreach campaign was utilized using the campus’ newly developed CougarBot (a chatbot tool). Through Cougarbot, 3,000 accepted CSTEM majors were sent text messages saying “Congratulations on your acceptance. Click here to see the top 5 reasons [name] likes studying [major] at CSUSM.” After viewing this, students could follow other paths to learn more or ask specific questions. Response rates averaged 18% (varying by major), which is very high for this type of contact, corresponding to interactions with over 550 prospective CSTEM majors.

Partnership with Latin@/x Center

The Director of CSUSM’s Latin@/x, Renzo Lara, began a STEM Initiative (LXC STEM Pathways) with support from the CSU STEM VISTA and the HSI-STEM grant. The LXC STEM Pathways Initiative aims to provide equitable and sustainable systems of support that focus on Latin@/x student cultural empowerment and community building. The HSI-grant team specifically supported two programs developed by the STEM VISTA STEM Cultura Pathways Specialists, Isabel Torres and Alejandra Alarcon. 

The STEM Pathways Student Advisory Council

 Under the supervision of Alejandra Alarcon, the council was designed to increase peer-to-peer outreach to Latin@/x students in CSTEM and to establish a greater sense of belonging within CSTEM faculty, staff and other STEM students at CSUSM. During spring 2022, five students served as Latinx STEM Student Ambassadors and provided insight and perspective on student outreach, peer-to-peer support, and how to build a sense of community for a greater sense of academic and personal support. The council led on-campus cultural events for CSTEM majors and engaged in Super STEM Saturday; a large community festival event engages kids of all ages and their families to the diverse and exciting fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as the STEM disciplines. The council also provided feedback to the HSI-STEM grant ream regarding their experiences as a STEM major at CSUSM.

Encuentros Engineering and Computer Science Academy

Under the supervision of Isabel Torres and the community organization, Encuentros Leadership, a summer week- long residential academy was held in June 2022 on the CSUSM campus. Thirty male Latino high school students engaged in multiple activities around college readiness including specific exposure to degree and career opportunities in engineering and computer science. Additionally, the participants learn leadership skills including self-confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, team collaboration, networking, socialization, presentation literacy, emotional intelligence, goal-setting, organizational discipline, career planning, and more.

Partnership with the Office of Recruitment & Outreach and CSTEM Dean’s Office

Each April, the Office of Recruitment & Outreach hosts Cougar Blue Day for newly admitted students (transfer and first year). This is an open house type event with presentations and tours. For the first time this April 2022, The HSI-STEM grant team and the CSTEM Dean’s office organized efforts to have CSTEM major breakout sessions led by a faculty member.  We had very large turnouts to this event by admitted students and their family members. We were able to provide key information and connection to approximately 460 students (not including family members) across all CSTEM majors.

Partnership with the New Student and Family Programs and CSTEM Dean’s Office

The HSI-STEM grant team and CSTEM Dean’s office staff worked with New Student and Family Programs to create specific four CSTEM specific orientation dates for the summer 2022. Incoming first year students who attended these orientation dates were surrounded by other majors in the college while attending required orientation presentations. Additionally, faculty-led discipline specific break out sessions were included in the day’s events. These students were also invited to attend an evening program termed “Step Into STEM” which was developed by the HSI-STEM grant team and staff from the CSTEM Dean’s office. This program is designed to maximize incoming student engagement with resources, staff, faculty, and other students in a relaxing environment and increase their sense of belonging and welcome to their new CSTEM community.