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Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 2:40 PM


SNOW, Eleanour, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, 10100 Burnet Rd, BLDG 196, R2200, Austin, TX 78758-4445,

GeoFORCE began in 2005 as an outreach program of UT’s Jackson School of Geosciences. Its purpose is to increase the number of students (particularly minorities) pursuing STEM degrees and moving on into the high-tech workforce. The program includes both field work and classroom teaching, using the excitement of the geosciences to inspire students to take more science and achieve success in high school.

GeoFORCE operates in rural, border towns and inner city schools; we have an 81% minority population. With our 6th year complete, we now have two cohorts that have graduated from high school (187 students). So far, GeoFORCE students have so-far greatly surpassed national averages in high school graduation rate (100%), college matriculation rate (92%), and college retention rate (>90%). The 187 GeoGRADS include 1 in 2007, 74 in 2009, and 112 in 2010. Of these, 2 have graduated from college (one from UT Austin, and one from Southwest Texas Junior College) and 154 have confirmed that they are enrolled in college in Fall 2010. Most of the rest, 12 new and 14 returning college students, have not told us their final plans. Only 5 are not pursuing college: 3 entered the armed forces, and 2 are working.

A primary goal of GeoFORCE is to increase the number of STEM majors, particularly minorities. Ninety-seven (57.7%) of our graduates have declared a STEM major, 27 of those are in the Earth Sciences. Our STEM majors are 58% Hispanic, 13% African American, 22% Caucasian, 6% Asian, and 1% Native American. Eighteen Hispanic students and 3 African Americans have declared majors in the Earth Sciences.

These numbers are important. According to the College Board, 2010 Report, Hispanics are the most undereducated group in America, with only 19.8% of 25-34 year old Hispanics holding college degrees. Furthermore, both 2-year and 4-year college completion rates for Hispanics and African Americans are well below national averages, which are themselves quite dismal.

The new challenge for GeoFORCE as we move forward, is to focus on college graduation. We learned from our first group of students that they were not as well prepared as they thought, so GeoFORCE is developing initiatives that focus on the goal of college graduation; these will extend back into high school and forward into college with mentoring, stronger advising, and better academic support.

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