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New free program offers STEM opportunity to minority kids

Posted at 2:11 PM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-02 22:27:01-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — A new summer outreach program aims to get more minority students in STEM.

The University of Colorado Colorado Springs plans to invite 24 high schoolers to campus for their free UCCS Stem Outreach Program. From July 18–20, students will be able to experience collegiate-level labs in chemistry, biology, biochemistry and human anatomy.

The UCCS Stem Outreach Program was created by undergraduate student Madison Fox.

"I started this program because I was so inspired by many of my classmates and my dad. He came from impoverished places in Colorado Springs, and became a dentist. He had a complicated childhood but I thought if he could do it, anyone could do it," said Fox.

Fox spent nearly three years designing the program to help minority students.

"Some of these high schools, I was surprised to hear don't have the best labs or science programs. I find that so sad because I love science, and I came from a privileged area in Colorado. I had such a wonderful experience, and because of that experience I decided to go into biochemistry," said Fox. "When I've talked to these parents and teachers, they tell me they lack these resources but they're students are so bright and talented. They just need this door to be opened for them to experience that."

Highschoolers will be able to assist UCCS faculty members in their research. Students can also participate in sessions with UCCS departments including the Pre-Collegiate Development Program, the Career Center, tours of specialized UCCS research facilities and panels with current students and alumni.

"They'll be experimenting with some enzymes and protein. They'll transition into biochemistry labs where they'll be looking at gene expression, how we can grow yeast and bacteria," said Fox.

"There are definitely disparities, especially in certain STEM professions. By increasing minorities, women, or underrepresented groups in those professions, it can help fill that gap in terms of the labor shortages in that field," said Lisa Hines, UCCS Department of Biology. "We have a lot of STEM professions, but not a lot of people to fill those professions. As a result, it requires a lot of people to fill those professions which makes it hard for us to be competitive on a global level."

"They'll be able to see that it doesn't matter the color of my skin or where I come from, I can be a doctor or a scientist and create cures and more wonderful things," said Fox.

Fox plans to expand the program to include engineering, technology and mathematics.

The deadline to apply will be May 28. Application details will be available tomorrow.

Program Schedule (subject to change):

Monday, July 18

Welcome, Orientation (9:00 am)
Safety Training (9:30 am)
Chemistry Lab #1 with Tisha Mendiola Jessop (10:30 am)
Lunch (12:00 pm)
Biology Lab #1 with Cheryl Doughty (1:00 pm)
Break (2:30 pm)
Pre-Collegiate Panel (3:00 pm)

Tuesday, July 19

UCCS Career Center Discussion (9:00 am)  
Biology Lab #2 with Tom Wolkow (10:30 am)
Lunch (12:00 pm)
Chemistry Lab #2 with Elise Naughton (1:00 pm)
Break (2:30 pm)
UCCS Alumni/Current Student Panel (3:00 pm)

Wednesday, July 20

Meet at William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center
CU School of Medicine Panel (9:00 am)
Hybl Center tour (10:30 am)
Lunch (12:00 pm)
Human Anatomy & Histology Lab with Sabine Allenspach and Hollis Morgione (1:00 pm)
Financial Aid and Scholarships Panel with parents and students (3:00 pm)
End of Program; pizza party and tour of the campus with parents and students (4:00 pm)