The Developing Scholars Program (DSP) is an undergraduate research opportunity program for underrepresented students. It is making a major impact on Latino/a graduations at Kansas State University, especially in the biomedical sciences, as we recruit, support, retain, and graduate first-generation, Latino/a students from immigrant families from southwest Kansas and the meatpacking industry and from our urban centers. By collaborating with community colleges in the southwest Kansas and by using university admissions representatives, we have established a significant pathway for first-generation Latino/a students to transfer to Kansas State’s Developing Scholars Program or to enter directly from high school. The DSP provides research internships for students in any field of study and pays the students for their efforts. The DSP promotes students' competition for scholarships and internships, connects students with tutoring, and provides a motivated peer group that promotes college success. The DSP also connects students with travel abroad opportunities and with graduate studies and professional schools.
Our mission is to address the changing demographics of Kansas and the intentions of the land-grant institution, to recruit and retain through graduation underrepresented students in all fields of study, to infuse a culture of inclusion into the faculty and campus, and to provide a more diverse pool of individuals for the twenty-first century workforce.
Latinos/as in our program have a 93-percent success rate (74 students) when success means graduation from our four-year institution or matriculation into a professional program. The program serves 60 students per year, and students can remain in the program up to three years. Most remain for the entire time; this means that fewer students have come through in nine years than if we replaced them all annually. The stability the program provides contributes to our students’ success rate. By year four, the students are moving on to other opportunities such as study abroad or internships—or their professors are willing to provide research funds from their own grants. Students who are not in the Developing Scholars Program come to our offices and seek interaction in terms of advising, scholarship information, etc. We believe we are making a difference in the overall image of Latino/a achievement.
This program was recognized as an Honorable Mention for making innovative and/or significant improvement in increasing Latino student success.