IBB Girls STEM Initiative celebrates first grads
Rice University’s Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) recently celebrated the graduation of the first students from the IBB Girls STEM Initiative, an intensive three-year preparatory program in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The program, which IBB conducts in partnership with Houston’s Chávez High School, is designed to prepare first-generation female high school students for college by immersing them in cutting-edge STEM research and fostering long-reaching mentoring relationships with Rice undergraduates and graduate students.
Each summer of their high school career, IBB participants live at Rice, work in labs and participate in workshops, demonstrations and field trips for one week. Throughout the academic year, the 60 girls in the program return to campus each month to meet with graduate student and faculty mentors, engage with community leaders across the STEM spectrum and advance their college readiness through targeted seminars. In addition, as students progress in the program, they act as peer mentors to younger girls in the program and provide essential role modeling for other first-generation college aspirants.
The program fits in with two of Rice’s strategic initiatives for the new century: quality teaching and enhancing research.
“While STEM fields play a key role in the economic growth of the United States, adding jobs 73 percent faster than the rest of the economy, women make up only 24 percent of our STEM workforce, and African-Americans and Latinos each make up only 3 percent of the STEM workforce,” said Lisa Sanger Blinn, program director and IBB associate director. “This program is specifically designed to reach people who are currently missing from the STEM pipeline, and of the 15 girls who began with this first group three years ago, 14 have been accepted to college and all but two plan to pursue a degree in a STEM-related field. They have collectively garnered over $400,000 in fellowships and scholarships for their education on campuses statewide, and we are already planning for their time as summer undergraduate researchers in laboratories here at Rice.
“In many ways, this group of young women served as co-creators and helped us build this program from day one,” Blinn said. “They’ve also agreed to continue helping us as alumni mentors and advisers. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
For more information, visit gsi.blogs.rice.edu/.