Tarleton Program Offers Support, Resources for STEM Students

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STEPHENVILLE — About 40 Tarleton State University students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs are part of a unique program funded by the President’s Fund for Excellence.

The STEM Scholars Program was created in 2021 to improve diversity, equity and inclusion of underrepresented, first-generation and economically disadvantaged students in Tarleton’s STEM fields.

Member students from within the College of Science and Technology meet monthly in workshops with faculty mentors, alumni and peer-mentors who provide resources and direct professional development activities.

Biology Associate Professor Dr. Dustin Edwards is a faculty mentor in the program that focuses on practical career development exercises.

“We meet in the evenings in one big group,” he said. “We have all the faculty advisors there, someone from each department, and we have an activity we do together.”

At a recent meeting, students prepared a curriculum vitae.

“We gave a presentation on what they are, how they’re used, and we gave students a template to work with,” Dr. Edwards said. “The students all worked together, compared their work, tweaked them for their own style and then submitted them to the mentors.”

The mentors provided instant feedback and responded to questions.

At another gathering mentors shared experiences applying for postgraduate degree programs. Another time, faculty advisors led members in submitting a scholarship application.

“We have a lot of students from families who have not had siblings in college before. In a lot of cases they might not know what these things are. Our goal is to make sure they have this valuable information.”

One student in the program, senior math major Aurod Ounsinegad from Austin’s Vandegrift High School, visited Tarleton’s Stephenville campus several times for high school FFA career development events.

“I enjoyed being on campus, the environment here and how affordable it is,” he said. “I absolutely loved it.”

He was the invited speaker for the first STEM Scholars meeting.

“I knew a lot of the professors, and they explained the idea of giving resources to students in STEM programs,” he said. “I really loved the idea of getting more real-world experience and knowing what my career is going to look like after I get my degree.”

Aurod was a biomedical major before switching to math. He plans to get his PhD in biomedical informatics and wants to work for Pfizer or the Centers for Disease Control as a lab instructor using mathematical modeling to mitigate the spread of arthropod-borne viruses.

He credits the STEM Scholars program with boosting his knowledge about getting into graduate school as well as how to properly present himself.

Membership in STEM Scholars is open to students in any science, technology, engineering or math discipline. For more information contact Dr. Edwards at 254-968-9153 or via email at dcedwards@tarleton.edu.

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