Valerie Romero-Leggott, MD Valerie Romero-Leggott, MD

Cultivating Curiosity

UNM STEM-H Center Lauded for its Achievements

The University of New Mexico’s STEM-H Center has received the 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

The award honors colleges and universities that encourage students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The STEM-H Center in the UNM Health Sciences Center’s Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion will be featured, along with 49 other recipients, in the September 2019 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

Award winners were selected based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation of young people to consider careers in STEM through mentoring, teaching, research and successful programs and initiatives.

“The UNM Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion’s STEM-H Center, through its programs, resources and advocacy, is a leader statewide, regionally and nationally in the work being done to address inequities and improve STEM learning for all students,” said Valerie Romero-Leggott, MD, Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer for the Health Sciences Center.

“The Center offers rich opportunities for students to develop strong STEM identities that they might never have seen themselves embracing. It also helps educators increase their capacity to support all students to become STEM-literate and to equip our future STEM workforce with the knowledge and skills they will need to flourish in their fields. These students will be the next generation of leaders developing STEM innovations to solve the grand challenges facing our world today.””

INSIGHT Into Diversity selected the UNM STEM-H Center because of its diverse portfolio of regional STEM competitions, professional development training, resource-rich websites, equipment and curricula, all of which enable it to reach thousands of students and educators annually.

The STEM-H Center plays leading roles in the STEM-NM  Ecosystem, the New Mexico Partnership for Math and Science Education and the UNM STEM-H Workgroup. It also engages in national conversations regarding STEM education, outreach and communications, diversity and equity and program evaluation.

Targeted recruitment efforts for its teacher professional development, student project development boot camps and 4th and 5th Grade Research Expo, have enabled the STEM-H Center to increase participation by females, particularly in the Central New Mexico Research Challenge, to greater than 50% for several years.

The Center also targets Title I and rural schools to encourage students from economically challenged areas to participate in its competition programs.

Pre-college students who take part in competitions like the Research Challenge, Science Olympiad and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia gain a rare opportunity to develop project-based scientific inquiry and engineering design abilities, together with a critical skills in organization, time management, planning, ethics and safety, communication and teamwork. Students also get to integrate those skills in settings similar to those they will encounter in their post-secondary education and careers.

“We know that many STEM programs are not always recognized for their success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

“We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these programs as role models to other institutions of higher education and beyond.”

A call for nominations for this award was announced in April 2019. For more information about the 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit insightintodiversity.com.

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