Supporting Minority Students at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
LacCore and CSDCO, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
LacCore, the National Lacustrine Core Facility, and the various students with whom we work in REU (NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates), UROP (UMN Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program), and other research programs and internships. "Diverse" in our case may refer to underrepresented minority students (with a focus on Native Americans in some of our projects, including those described by Diana Dalbotten in her parallel essay), disabled, veterans, women, and nontraditional students. Our REU and other interns come from a wide variety of US institutions.
Keys to Success
- Climatic and environmental change sells itself.
- Use (near-)peer mentors, diverse teams; talk about how things work.
- Work on writing; make them present as often as possible; talk about how things work.
Attracting New Students
In reviewing applications, look at numerous measures of achievement and interest, not only at GPA and other formal measures;
Proactively recruit students from underrepresented groups through established networks (Geoscience Alliance, AISES, SACNAS, etc.);
Supporting Our Majors
Use gender-balanced and frequently female-dominated mentor teams, with students from past internship programs as mentors or TAs whenever possible;
Focus on building diverse intern teams that include students from widely differing backgrounds;
Encourage openness about the challenges of academia, including the acknowledging and discussing mental health issues, and the many possible pathways and careers in science.
Preparing Students for Careers
Our students take a variety of career paths, from grad school to teaching to resource management. We connect them with new mentors and programs, help edit their letters of intent or personal statements, and whenever possible coauthor posters, talks, and papers with the student as first author and presenter.