Student researcher Jessica Valadez, left, and Math Cuajungco, associate professor of biological science, work together in the lab. Photo: Greg Andersen
Meeting National Needs
CSUF Among Top Institutes for Latino STEM Grads
Aug. 7, 2012 :: No. 14
Cal State Fullerton is among the top institutions graduating Latino students in science, technology, engineering and math, according to a recent study completed by Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C.-based national nonprofit organization with the mission is to accelerate Latino student success in higher education.
“Finding Your Workforce: The Top 25 Institutions Graduating Latinos in Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) by Academic Level 2009-2010” is the third in a series of studies that link college completion and the workforce, according to the agency’s website. The study was conducted by Deborah Santiago, co-founder and vice president for policy and research at Excelencia in Education, and Megan Soliz, Excelencia in Education research assistant.
Senior psychology major Jaime Munoz Velazquez consults with Nancy L. Segal, professor of psychology. Photo: Matt Gush
The study ranks universities by type of degree, major and number of Latino graduates. In its executive summary, the authors note that a small number of institutions graduated a high percentage of Latinos in STEM and that degree attainment in STEM is concentrated geographically, with most of the top institutions located in California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, Illinois, New Mexico and Puerto Rico. Most of the degrees awarded, according to the study, were bachelor's degrees.
Cal State Fullerton is listed:
• fifth for master’s degrees awarded to Latinos in mathematics/statistics
• 13th for bachelor degrees awarded to Latinos in mathematics/statistics
• 25th for master’s degrees awarded to Latinos in physical sciences
CSUF’s Project MISS, led by David Pagni, professor of mathematics and recipient of the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring, is the lead example cited in the report’s section on “What Works for Latino Students in STEM Progams” under the heading College Preparation. The report indicates that since 1990, Project MISS “has provided an intensive mathematics experience to females from underrepresented ethic groups. High school girls attend MISS courses in preparatory mathematics at the Algebra II level and above during the summer.” The authors also point out that “Latinas are the largest ethnic group served, accounting for 64 percent of the participants since 1990. The 2012 cohort is 78 percent Latina.”
Regarding evidence of effectiveness, the authors report that “the 2011 cohort of Latinas had a mean improvement rate of 74 percent in algebra skills” and “a mean improvement rate of 110 percent in intermediate algebra skills.”
Cal State Fullerton was named a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2004. The designation is given by the U.S. Department of Education to nonprofit institutions with at least a 25 percent Hispanic student population and half of those students living at or below the poverty level. Cal State Fullerton's student population, based on the fall 2011 census, is 32 percent Hispanic.
The university is ranked No. 1 in California and fourth in the nation for the number of bachelor’s degree awarded to Hispanics, as reported in a May issue of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. The magazine also ranks CSUF 19th in the nation for the number of Hispanic students enriolled in graduate programs.