2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 187-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM


GATES, Alexander E.1, LEE, Jeffrey2 and STEIN, Jill2, (1)Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, 101 Warren St, Smith Hall Room 136, Newark, NJ 07102, (2)Biology and Chemistry Division, Essex County College, 303 University Ave, Newark, NJ 07102, agates@rutgers.edu

A program to create a geoscience career pathway for underrepresented minority youth in Newark, NJ has been greatly enhanced by including Essex County College, a local community college, as a key linkage. Rutgers University – Newark initiated a program in which middle and high school students were exposed to applied aspects of geosciences through classroom enrichment exercises, summer institutes, afterschool and weekend programs and community activities. A dual-credit high school-college course was also established. Student persistence in the geoscience pathway from K-12 to Rutgers and beyond to careers was mixed until Essex County College was added. Essex took over running the dual-credit course, contributed student teaching assistants to the summer institute and began offering introductory courses in geosciences for the first time in 30 years, which are aligned with the Rutgers geoscience curriculum and an articulated program was established. Essex formed an additional track to the pathway and were able to capture students who do not have the resources or academic credentials to directly enter Rutgers University. By offering a viable curriculum in geosciences with active students both from the K-12 part of the pathway as well as students introduced to the geosciences through acting as teaching assistants from the summer program, students from Essex County College with no prior exposure to geosciences are also being attracted to the college segment of the geoscience pathway. These students earn an Associate’s degree at Essex and then enter the Bachelor’s program at Rutgers or another 4-year geoscience program. Considering the vast number of students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds as well as the percentage of students who are first generation college students in Newark, Essex County College forms an essential component to the program that was otherwise unanticipated. This situation illustrates how community colleges can play an essential role in diversity programs for inner city underrepresented minority youth in the geosciences.