Degrees to Minorities Degrees to Minorities

Iowa’s Public Universities will increase the degree attainment of underrepresented minority students

“As Iowa plays a stronger role in the global economy, a diverse learning environment becomes a more important element of the educational experience as Iowa’s Public Universities prepare our students for Iowa’s future workforce.”
– Regent Ruth Harkin

Our student retention efforts also provide a critical link to our success in minority degree completion. The universities have developed strong diversity initiatives in close collaboration with their retention offices to provide the additional support that many minority students need to stay in school. This includes enhanced tutoring and mentoring efforts, scholarships, and other programs targeted to minority success.

UI student Al Brown, Charlotte, North Carolina

“I chose Iowa after being accepted to Iowa Biosciences Advantage,” says the Charlotte, North Carolina Native. The program identifies talented undergraduates from backgrounds underrepresented in research.

The goal: provide one-on-one mentoring, travel to academic conferences, and other experiences that prep students for graduate programs in the biomedical, behavioral, or biophysical sciences. In Brown’s case, that meant working with a Carver College of Medicine team studying streptococcus bacteria.

“I love doing research and knowing there’s a possibility that I could help millions of lives by discovering something new,” says Brown, today a junior microbiology major. “This is what I want to do for my career.”

Minority enrollment in STEM programs is also a focus. In the fall 2010 report of student retention and graduation rates, the number of undergraduate minority students majoring in STEM programs totaled 1,691, an increase of 138 students (8.9%) from the previous year. This represents 9.3% of all STEM majors at Iowa’s Public Universities.

UNI student Roxy Garza, San Antonio, TX

Prior to transferring to the University of Northern Iowa, Roxy Garza participated in the UNI Jump Start program, an extended summer orientation designed to facilitate the successful transition of new freshmen and transfer students from ethnically, culturally, and socioeconomically diverse backgrounds.
“Everyone involved with the Jump Start program has been very supportive and encouraging. Because of them, I am well on my way to achieving my goals. Attending UNI has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

ISU students and identical twins Jonathan and Donathan Morgan, Kansas City, Missouri. Photo by Bob Elbert

Identical twins Jonathan and Donathan Morgan of Kansas City, Missouri, sophomores in the ISU College of Engineering, selected Iowa State for the strength of its engineering program and its friendly campus atmosphere. The brothers are recipients of the prestigious and highly competitive Gates Millennium Scholarship for low-income minority students.

The twins spent the summer prior to their first semester at ISU in the College of Engineering’s Summer Program for Enhancing Engineering Development (SPEED). This summer bridge program works to boost engineering students’ math and physics skills in preparation for the rigors of engineering and college life. “SPEED helped prepare us for the learning that was ahead of us at ISU,” Jonathan said.

“SPEED was an awesome transition between high school and college engineering,” Donathan said. “On weekdays, we were in class literally all day doing math, physics and advanced algebra. And on the weekends, we visited several engineering companies, like John Deere, Pella Windows and Rockwell Collins.

“We don’t know exactly what we want to do, but we want to do something great,” Donathan said. “We want to contribute to the world.”