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Supporting Minority Students at Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi

Information for this profile was provided by Tania Anders, Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi. Information is also available on the program website.

Jump Down To: Context | Keys to Success | Attracting New Students | Supporting Our Majors | Preparing Students for Careers | Additional Information

Geology Program Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi

Context

According to U.S. Census data, approximately 60% of the population in Corpus Christi was Hispanic in 2010 (most current data available). In the Fall of that year, approximately 40% of the students enrolled at TAMUCC were Hispanics (about 4,000 students). Nearly 20% of the geology majors that year were declared Hispanics; 13 students). The numbers increased for 2011 (30%) as well as 2012 (30%; 24 of the 79 geology majors). Despite the increase, these numbers clearly show, that recruitment efforts geared towards this population group need to improve. Within our department, there are also over 170 declared Environmental Sciences majors. As with Geology, approximately 30% of these students are Hispanics.

Overall the Geology Program at TAMUCC has seen a substantial growth over the past 6 years (40% increase in enrollment). The program currently serves 85 majors and over 500 non-science majors (yearly). Part of the growth may reflect a regional increase in interest in the geosciences because of the Eagle Ford Shale "boom".

Keys to Success

Attracting New Students

TAMUCC maintains an articulation agreement with Del Mar College, our local community college. This agreement allows students to transfer credits from introductory level courses (such as math, physics, chemistry, as well as introductory geology courses) completed at the college, effortlessly to TAMUCC.

In addition to this agreement, faculty from the two institutions connect regularly, which has lead to some collaborative efforts (e.g. joint field trips, guest speakers).

With three introductory geology courses embedded in the university core, our program has the opportunity to reach over 500 non-science majors or students who have not declared a major per year. The program invests heavily into making these courses attractive to this audience, e.g. by emphasizing local geology and the applicability of geology to all humans. How many students are actually recruited from these courses needs to be tracked better, but several transfers have been made (e.g. two students this past semester).

Data on how many high school students are attracted to our program through outreach efforts such as Island Days, Science fairs, or the Science Olympiad is not available at this time. Faculty make an effort to endorse the geosciences not only during these events but also when visiting local schools (all levels) regularly. In collaboration with the Corpus Christi Geological Society geology has been brought into nearly all schools in our region. Some of the projects of recent years include "Maps in Schools" (a geologic map of North America is hanging in just about every school in the county), "Boulder in School" (boulder-sized rock specimen representing the three main rock groups are set up at schools), and "Bones in Schools" (schools are provided with a poster-sized mural depicting Nueces County during the last Ice Age. Fossils from organisms such as mammoths, which lived in our area at the time, are also provided).

Supporting Our Majors

Two issues that students at our institution struggle with often are financial and academic challenges. In the sciences, we support our students in a number of ways in these areas of concern.

1. Exposure to research, which benefits them academically and in addition, boosts their marketability upon graduation. E.g.:

2. Further academic support within the University
Currently ca. 145 students are members of the SOAR cohort. Of these, eight are ESCI, two GIS, and six Geology majors. 12 of these 16 students are minorities (10 of them Hispanic). For the geology students a microscope has been purchases for the study room.

3. Financial support

Indirect financial support for geology majors comes from programs such as the ones mentioned above. Faculty also make an effort to lend out textbooks etc. to students in need.

Scholarship opportunities are offered to our students through local organizations such as the Corpus Christi Geological Society as well as national organizations. Faculty write letters of recommendations for students regularly. Many of our students are not proactive about pursuing scholarships and need to be lead and encouraged by faculty.

Internships with the local businesses, primarily petroleum-oriented, help our students financially, but maybe more importantly, also academically. They learn to apply their knowledge from classes which makes the material much more relevant to them and often find great mentors among the employers. The geology program invites guest speakers to campus regularly as part of the Undergraduate Seminar. Many of these speakers offer internship opportunities to our students.

Preparing Students for Careers

Being an institution in the state of Texas where the petroleum industry offers employment to many of our graduates, we strive to prepare our students wishing to pursue this career path. Aside from offering electives such as Introduction to Petroleum Geology, the program faculty work hard to connect our students with local companies. Several of our graduates have been hired upon graduation by the companies they interned for. Nurturing the ties with the local Geological Society is also very beneficial to our students. Student memberships are free and during the monthly luncheons they can interact with professionals in the field.

Beginning with their freshmen year, our students are exposed to writing intensive assignments, later followed by poster and verbal presentations. In 2012, a new learning community for Geology and Environmental Sciences majors was established on our campus. As part of this learning community, students are guided not only by their science faculty, but they are also part of a seminar course where they learn to grow and improve their writing skills etc. These skills are crucial in preparing them for the workforce as well as graduate school.

Addition Information

Corpus Christi Geological Society



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