The Citrus College STEM Summer Research Experience (SRE) program was established in 2012 with support from a federal grant aimed at increasing the number of Hispanic STEM majors. Prior to 2012, data showed that Hispanic students were not selecting STEM majors at rates proportional to their enrollment at the college, and those enrolled in STEM were not succeeding or transferring at rates consistent with their peers. Summer research experience, a high impact practice not typically available to community college students, was identified as a critical piece to addressing these disparities. Each summer, about 50 students are placed at one of eight partner institutions and spend 8-10 weeks full-time in a laboratory with a professional scientist. Through experiential learning, SRE students define and strengthen their STEM identity, acquire research/lab skills, build social capital, and develop habits of mind. At the end of the summer, students present their research at a workshop attended by all participants and faculty. Students continue to receive informal support after they complete the program.
The goals of SRE are to increase Hispanic enrollment in STEM and boost persistence, retention, and transfer rates through a hands-on, mentored opportunity that ensures Hispanics benefit from local resources.
- Targeted recruitment has increased Hispanic student applications from 16% in 2012 to 70% in 2016. Placement of Hispanics in SRE has increased from 12% of the cohort in 2012 to 68% in 2015.
- Of the 51 students in the summer 2016 cohort, 78% were Hispanic. Hispanics comprise 61% of the overall Citrus College population.
- STEM majors were 4.5% of total enrollment in 2009, and 35% of those enrolled were Hispanic. In 2015, STEM majors were 15% of total enrollment, and 61% were Hispanic.
- In the past two years, there has been a 63% increase in STEM degree production, from 325 degrees awarded in 2013 to 529 in 2015. Hispanics had a 93% increase in STEM degrees awarded and earned 54% of all STEM degrees awarded in 2015.
- 97% of all students since 2010 have transferred or are on track to transfer and remain in STEM.
- Overall STEM transfer rates have increased 126% since 2009. Hispanic transfers in STEM have increased 300% in the same period. From 2012-13 to 2014-15, Hispanic transfer rates increased 112%.
Participant feedback informs us of program success as students assert SRE has “helped [them] transition to the university,” “grow as an individual and a scientist,” and provided the “tools to succeed more than anything [they] could have imagined.