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UC summer programs cultivate diversity


Students getting a jump on careers in medicine at the Fast Start program. Photo credit: UC Riverside

During the academic offseason, UC hosts thousands of high school and undergraduate students in programs aimed at sparking interest in areas of study that have struggled to attract women and minorities. The goal: excite students about these fields through hands-on research and mentoring.

Packed with rigorous coursework, real-world projects and social support — including a few trips to the beach and redwoods thrown in — these programs are attracting a more diverse generation of students for programs that range from business administration to biotech.

More than 300 high school students in the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH) spend five weeks each summer living on campuses, engaged in cutting-edge math and science projects that will prepare them to pursue STEM degrees at top schools.

It’s the kind of world-class academic opportunity that usually carries a hefty price tag — but not for SMASH participants. The academy is free for eligible students willing to commit to participating every summer from freshman through junior year.

UC Berkeley, UC Davis and UCLA are among the campuses that host this national program, offered through the nonprofit Level Playing Field Institute, which aims to attract Latino and African American students to careers in tech. The effort has had impressive results: 95 percent of its graduates – most of whom come from low-income households – have gone on to college, with an academic focus on STEM fields.

Read more about SMASH and five other UC summer programs that are helping minority and low income students succeed in their academic careers.


Credit for photo on Link home page: UC Riverside

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