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STUDENT LIFE

STEM group to mentor peers


By Aaricka Washington



Senior Jamel Hill broke some good news to Leah Davis, Groups Program STEM initiative adviser.

“I am going to be participating in a research lab about how people’s body responds to fast food,” Hill said.

Hill said he is going to be a doctor when he completes his many years of schooling. 
Hill is currently the president of the new Groups Program STEM Student Organization.

The Groups Program STEM Initiative fits under the umbrella of IU’s joint effort with certain programs in order to encourage underrepresented students to study science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields.

The IU STEM Initiative includes many different programs, such as the Women in Science Mentoring Program, IU Office of Diversity, Equity, Multicultural Affairs and Historically Black Colleges and Universities Summer Scholars Initiative Program, along with many other programs in relative departments.

Leah Davis is one of the advisers of the Groups Program STEM Initiative, along with Vince Isom. Davis said the Groups part of IU’s STEM Initiative grew from the Women in Science Mentoring Program — a program that started in 2010 with the now-defunct Office of Women’s affairs.

“Janice Wiggins had a vision to want to see a little bit more in terms of STEM, and she really wanted to see young men in our mentoring program,” Davis said. “So we decided to fully develop a more comprehensive STEM program.” 

Davis said the Groups Program STEM Initiative started off with 50 students, both men and women. Its goal is to provide first-generation college students the opportunity to engage in fields they don’t usually gravitate toward.

According to the Groups Program STEM Scholar brochure, the STEM Scholars participate in mentoring, presentations, tutoring and research experience. STEM Scholars are required to choose between three career tracks: Ph.D., Public Health and M.D.

“That’s the ultimate goal. That’s how we frame it,” Davis said.

Last year, Hill started a student group from within the organization to increase peer mentoring within the program. It’s called the STEM Student Organization.

“Our organization is in its infantile stage, so a lot of the things that I have implanted in our organization is things that we could use in the future, like how to run a meeting,” Hill said.

Hill said they will be volunteering at a career fair today, and it will put them in contact with professionals in different fields. They will also be volunteering at an elementary school science fair.

“Little things like that, helping out the community and getting to know each other has really been the focus,” Hill said.

Hill said the reason he wanted to create the organization was so there could be a community feeling within the Groups Program STEM Initiative Scholars.

“That’s part of the biggest ways I’ve contributed to STEM, is wanting to have a place where students can be a part of that can help them succeed,” Hill said.

Davis said Hill’s success with the STEM program is a sign that the program is indeed working. She said there are specific requirements in the STEM Initiative when it comes to medical fields, because it is not directly related to a STEM field.

However, when it comes to students like Hill whose focus is to attend medical school, they don’t want to exclude them.

IU’s STEM Initiative and its many programs are a part of President Barack Obama’s “Educate to Innovate” program he initiated nationally in 2009.

“Part of the Obama Administration’s platform, his goal was to be sure that our country stays No. 1 in the world,” Davis said. “He believed that investing more into the STEM areas will be more profitable for this country, because STEM drives the economy, and so in order for us to be No. 1, we have to have more people going into these areas.”

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