An NSF AGEP Program’s Unintended Effect on Broadening Participation: Transforming “Non-STEM” Graduate Students into Engineering Education Faculty, Researchers, K-12 Educators, and Advocates



Welcome to the project page for: An NSF AGEP Program’s Unintended Effect on Broadening Participation: Transforming “Non-STEM” Graduate Students into Engineering Education Faculty, Researchers, K-12 Educators, and Advocates. 


INFORMED CONSENT: Thank you for visiting our website. The content on this page, including information from any webinars or online discussions, will be used to inform our research. You are invited to participate in the discussion and you are free to use any format for your blog name or avatar. Responses from anonymous users are valued equally among those who use identifiable blogger names or those who use pseudonyms. We welcome and encourage participation from the general public, and seek to hear responses from an international audience. Thank you for your participation.

This page is hosted by the PROMISE AGEP, and this project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation: Collaborative Research: AGEP – T: PROMISE AGEP Maryland Transformation # 1309290, #1309264, and #1309256.  IRB #:  Y15RT39099.

This investigation will be disseminated to the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).

The Project 

An NSF AGEP Program’s Unintended Effect on Broadening Participation: Transforming “Non-STEM” Graduate Students into Engineering Education Faculty, Researchers, K-12 Educators, and Advocates

Background and Premise: 

The National Science Foundation’s Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program focuses on increasing the numbers of underrepresented minorities (URM) who will get STEM PhDs and go on to become professors. While typically serving students within STEM fields, the AGEP for our state has broadened its reach to include participants from various disciplines. Our activities engage students from engineering along with those from science, education, and the humanities, and we open professional development activities to graduate students from all backgrounds, races, and cultures. This level of inclusion provides a sense of community and critical mass of scholars for the URM STEM students.


The Blogging Process

The study is designed to observe responses of participants from PROMISE AGEP graduate students and alumni who currently participate or have participated in the NSF PROMISE AGEP program in Maryland, but had research and received graduate degrees in fields that are not traditionally considered STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). We are also seeking responses from PROMISE alums in the social sciences.  This is a social media, interactive project. Men and women from all backgrounds are invited to participate.


 [A note about blogging: Many people engage in blogging activities on mobile devices, and bloggers who type without an account may not be able to edit their entries. Therefore, there may be small errors within the posts below that are the result of blogging quickly “on-the-go,” or unintentional mobile device “auto-corrections” that produce errors out of context. Errors will be corrected in any resulting publications. Thank you for reading and participating in the conversation.]

44 Comments on “An NSF AGEP Program’s Unintended Effect on Broadening Participation: Transforming “Non-STEM” Graduate Students into Engineering Education Faculty, Researchers, K-12 Educators, and Advocates”

  1. January 22, 2015 at 5:15 PM #


    This blog discussion is being used for research. Your comment will be used for research purposes.

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    By posting on this website, you are giving your consent to have your comments considered for use in the research discussions and publications.


  2. January 22, 2015 at 5:23 PM #

    Thank you for participating. We are seeking information about your experiences. We have some guiding questions below, but you are welcome to go “off-script,” and we encourage you to respond to one another regarding your experiences.

    A. Please share your field of study.

    B. Guiding Questions:
    1. What did you know about STEM (in general, engineering in particular) research or advocacy before participating in the PROMISE AGEP?
    2. Do you do any work, formal or informal with STEM research or advocacy.
    3. How has the PROMISE AGEP influenced your participation in STEM research or advocacy?
    4. Are you working in an area of STEM research of advocacy now?
    5. Do you have any plans to do any work in STEM research or advocacy in the future?


  3. January 24, 2015 at 10:28 PM #

    I participated in PROMISE as a first year master’s student in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland-College Park. I can’t remember how I learned about PROMISE, but I do remember checking to make sure that it was ok for me to participate, being in the field of education. PROMISE ended up being being a great transitional program (i.e., bridge program almost). This is especially true as I was entering graduate school immediately after completing my undergraduate degree, and from a different state. That being said, PROMISE’s summer institute not only provided me with tangible tools to be jump start the academic year (e.g., workshops on earning a 4.0, motivational speakers discussing the challenges I’d face as a person of color in graduate school, and strategies to navigate the graduate school terrain), PROMISE also provided interested students with a mentor. I took advantage of all opportunities that that PROMISE program offered. That is, I agreed to have a mentor, who happened to be a doctoral student (which was great for me to observe and be connected to someone going through the process I would eventually go through 4 years later). Another benefit of the PROMISE program was its sustained connection with students. Some support programs tend to focus on the beginning of students’ matriculation. PROMISE, however, had support structures throughout the academic journey. In addition to the mentoring program, there were workshops throughout the semester, and end-of-the-semester (and academic year) celebrations. It was through PROMISE that I learned the importance of celebrating incremental survival. And through all of the workshops, seminars, and celebrations, I was gathered with other scholars who looked like me, which I cannot deny as being an important component of the program.

    The nature of PROMISE was primarily geared towards STEM majors. Before PROMISE, I wasn’t connected to many engineers, or to science students. Through my interactions with fellow PROMISE participants, I started to learn more about the different demands of their academic programs relative to mine. Because of my new awareness of those in science and engineering, it is no surprise that when I went back to graduate school for my doctorate in 2008, I began working on research related to STEM education. In fact, my independent research focused on Black males in engineering, and my dissertation took a broader focus on understanding how participation in research groups influences students to pursue engineering faculty careers.

    Without a doubt, I know that participating in the PROMISE program played a role in my decision to engage in research on STEM education. And as a new assistant professor of higher education, I now do work on engineering education with efforts of broadening participation in STEM.


  4. Latasha Eley
    January 26, 2015 at 8:59 AM #

    My first experience with PROMISE was as a 1st year doctoral student in the Language, Literacy, & Culture program at UMBC during the Fall 2011 semester. I attended the opening meeting, which I found extremely warm and welcoming to all students – not just those in STEM fields. That has been my experience with any PROMISE event/activity I’ve participated in, which I’m thankful for as I was initially hesitant about participation because I wasn’t sure how my field would be received. Since that initial meeting I’ve participated in two dissertation houses, traveled to two SREB conferences (one in Atlanta, one in Tampa), and attended and spoken at a teaching workshop about my experiences as a Teaching Assistant. Each of the activities I engaged in had meaningful impacts on my overall doctoral experience, from networking and skill building to aiding me in getting closer and closer to the completion of my degree. During the first dissertation house I attended, I worked on research and writing for the first three chapters of my dissertation. During the second dissertation house I attended, I completed transcriptions of interviews and focus groups for my dissertation research. During both, I worked with Dr. Carter-Veale to prepare an impactful “elevator speech” about my research and prepare an effective and efficient plan of completion. I am happy to report that last Thursday, January 22 I successfully defended my dissertation and am now officially Dr. Eley!!
    Prior to participating in PROMISE, I knew what STEM fields were and general statistics about the number of women and students of color in those fields. Through my positions as an admissions counselor, orientation advisor, and teaching assistant, I have had opportunities to informally council some students about their interest in STEM fields which has in some ways been influenced by my participation in PROMISE. I am currently not formally working in an area of STEM research/advocacy, but in my role as a Teaching and Research Assistant and future administrator/faculty positions I hope to continue to be able to counsel students, especially underrepresented students, who have an interest in STEM fields.


    • January 29, 2015 at 11:45 PM #

      Latasha: I have you to thank partially for informing me about PROMISE, Dissertation House as well as all of the other seminars and resources that are offered. 🙂 Though I haven’t been able to attend a lot the events due to work and scheduling conflicts, the sessions that I have attended have provided me with a network of allies in and outside of my discipline–who I look forward to collaborating with before and after matriculation. As my dissertation research begins to take form, I see how my primary research areas of :Black Feminist Perspectives, Cultural Studies, Sociolinguistics & Media and Communication Studies work in concert with the STEM fields. I look forward to attending more events and creating more spaces for interdisciplinary collaboration in the near future!


      • January 30, 2015 at 8:08 AM #

        Thank you Erin. You also have been an influencer and advocate through the Graduate Student Association. I will always remember your encouragement of a woman in computer science … from your first day as a graduate student.


    • January 30, 2015 at 8:13 AM #

      Thank you Dr. Eley. I’m glad that you were able to be part of the SREB experience. I will always remember your LLC cohort in the Dissertation House, and I think that it’s awesome that your colleagues, Dr. Reed and Dr. Pucino have also been involved in STEM advocacy. Congratulations on your defense!


    • February 1, 2015 at 8:05 PM #

      Thank you LaTasha! I’m glad that you were able to participate with our program. Your presence and participation with others at the SREB Compact for Faculty Diversity, contributed to the encouragement of others in either engineering disciplines, or STEM research. For example, your colleague, Dr. Kimberly Holmes, was a co-author on an ASEE paper in 2014 (“Building a Community of Practice Among STEM Graduate Students to Foster Academic and Professional Success,”


  5. January 26, 2015 at 10:05 AM #

    I got to know PROMISE while doing my Masters in Intercultural Communication. I participated in several of the events and then I collaborated as a teacher trainer. Later, while pursuing my PhD in Language, Literacy and Culture, I worked as a GA for the Graduate School at UMBC and had the chance to keep on collaborating with the PROMISE program. As a matter of fact, the PROMISE program played a key role since it provided me with various types of support and thanks to that I was able to complete my PhD. For example, I had the chance to participate in two Dissertation House events and, later, I had the opportunity to collaborate in its organization. Therefore, I did not only gain tools for finishing my degree but I also gain first-hand experience on how to organize and implement initiatives to help students write their dissertations. Nowadays my research and teaching area are centered on academic writing in different disciplines and many times I come across students from the STEM field in the graduate seminars I teach. Overall, being part of PROMISE had a meaningful impact during my graduate studies and still influences my current teaching and research activities since I would not be the professor and researcher I am without having participated in many of the program’s activities and events.


    • January 31, 2015 at 2:45 PM #

      Violeta, I think that your work with the CONICET (Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones
      Científicas y Técnicas) in Argentina – similar to the National Science Foundation in the US, expounds upon ways that we conduct scientific writing. Your work discusses social relationships, working across disciplines, using technological tools, etc. When you were at UMBC, you had students from the College of Engineering and IT in your seminars for PROF-it (Professors-in-Training). There were distinct questions about how people in the sciences could use various methods of teaching in their science and engineering courses, especially when they weren’t sure if methods that you were using in the Humanities and Education would work. You explained that enthusiasm of the instructor, and the attitude of the instructor was important to learning. You also worked with some of our engineers, and computer scientists on ways to make teaching computer programming more interesting. I think that your work as a postdoc with Paula Carlino in Buenos Aires is fascinating, and continue to wish you well as a researcher at the CONICET. Thank you Dr. Colombo!


  6. Angelo Gomez
    January 26, 2015 at 10:40 AM #

    The PROMISE Program was one of the best experiences in my doctoral program. I received mentoring, support, camaraderie, and ultimately it was thanks to this program how graduated. Today, just as the program aims at, I am a faculty in a profession where barely 3% is Latin@, and thanks to heir help, workshops, and assistance I teach research courses in the master and doctoral level.


  7. Angelo Gomez
    January 26, 2015 at 10:50 AM #

    The PROMISE Program was one of the best experiences in during my doctoral training. Thanks to PROMISE and their staff, I reived mentoring, support, camaraderie, and ultimately, it was thanks to this program how I managed to graduate. The dissertation workshops and retreats were a life saver to me. Today, just as the program aims at, I am a faculty in a profession where barely 3% is Latin@, and thanks to heir help, workshops, and assistance to present in conferences, I teach research courses in the master and doctoral level program in my university. From the workshops to the conferences, and the dinners along with the always supporting faculty, I graduated from a program with 75% attrition rate. Today, I am a full time faculty and have PROMISE lifetime mentors and friends. Thank you PROMISE!


    • February 1, 2015 at 2:18 PM #

      Thank you Angelo. My training is in engineering and science, and I first heard about phenomenology as a methodology, from working with you in PROMISE via the Dissertation House. We are using this method for our study. Therefore, your participation in PROMISE has had a direct effect on the engineering education research that we are conducting now. Thank you for your participation in PROMISE.


      • Angelo
        February 1, 2015 at 9:59 PM #

        Thank you very much for your reply. I am happy to hear that part of my work motivated more use of this methodology. I am so thank you for your support and help.
        Best wishes.


  8. Miguel Nino
    January 26, 2015 at 6:27 PM #

    1. I am currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Instructional Design & Technology in the Learning Science and Technology at Virginia Tech. I was recently awarded a Learning Science Graduate Certificate from the same institution.
    2. Before participating in the PROMISE AGEP, I has very little knowledge about STEM research or advocacy. I was in the field of Training & Development, and e-learning was about to become an emerging trend. So, I had just started to becoming familiar with the technology aspect of STEM, learning how to use and integrate instructional technologies and media in regular classroom and settings.
    3. I am currently one of the members of the Learning Transformation Research Group at Virginia Tech. We have developed the Gateways of Algebraic Motivation, Engagement, and Success (GAMES) project, which is focused on designing and developing mathematics digital games for middle schools. My dissertation focuses on digital game-based learning and the strategies that are used to integrate digital learning games in traditional classrooms. The nature of my research is interdisciplinary and includes: technology, engineering, math, and instructional design. In addition, I am a member of the American Society of Engineering Education and I have collaborated in projects related to professional development in engineering students. Next week, I will be presenting at the Conference of Higher Education Pedagogy about e-learning tools that cab be used to innovate traditional engineering curricula in higher education. Part of my research agenda is to close the gap between learning sciences and engineering, since I believe both fields can be beneficial to each other.
    4. For two years, I was a program assistant for PROMISE AGEP and it was definitely the experience that shaped my current research agenda. As a program assistant, I had to contribute to research efforts (e.g. publications, conferences) related to STEM education. Also, I had to work in assessment and evaluation of the impact of professional development in STEM fields. Furthermore, I was part of several seminars and workshops that introduced me to the STEM world. I discovered the benefits of being in a STEM field and it also helped me discover how my field (instructional design) could be connected with STEM fields. Working for PROMISE AGEP, developed a STEM mentality in me that allowed me to effectively collaborate at Virginia Tech with STEM collaborators. It also helped me identify areas in my research agenda that could be addressed from a STEM perspective. The mentorship process with Dr. Renetta Tull is still a major resource for me to continue my career in a STEM related research area.
    4. Yes, I am, as previously described.
    5. My research agenda in the long term will focus in developing digital games in other STEM related fields. I would like not only to focus on how students can be successful in difficult courses such as engineering and mathematics through game, but I would like to use my research to provide effective tools to teachers in STEM education that need resources to effectively implement digital game-based learning. The benefits of digital games help students acquire 21st century skills that are necessary in today’s competitive world and I would like to provide data to support that.


    • January 30, 2015 at 9:35 AM #

      Miguel, you have also presented at both LACCEI and ASEE.


      • February 1, 2015 at 7:55 PM #

        Here is one of Miguel Nino’s papers from the LACCEI conference: I believe that I saw that nearly all of your publications are with ASEE and LACCEI, and I know that you have one with the Journal of Educational Technology Systems.

        Miguel, I also think that your Learning Transformation research group project is interesting: Gateways to Algebraic Motivation, Engagement and Success (GAMES): Supporting and Assessing Fraction Proficiency with Game-Based, Mobile Applications and Devices, Thank you for your contributions Miguel.


        • Miguel Nino
          February 2, 2015 at 1:31 PM #

          Looking at things, basically all of my research is STEM related. I have presented at LACCEI and ASEE (multiple times). Recently, I published in the Asia-Pacific Education Researcher about Digital Games in Middle School Mathematics Classrooms.
          My rationale for this type of research is closing the gap between STEM fields and my field (instructional design). Also, it has allowed me to be up to date with the latest trends in instructional technology and software to enhance the teaching and learning experience, as well as the professional development of faculty and students.
          Thanks for everything!


    • January 30, 2015 at 9:41 AM #

      The following comment was sent via email and is posted here with permission:


      I wasn’t able to post online because I didn’t remember my password to wordpress. (It recognized my e-mail address because I used to have a wordpress web site or a few.) But, here are the comments I tried to post anonymously:

      1. My PhD is in American Studies. Being apart of the Promise program gave me a lot of interaction with academics in the STEM fields, and their work.

      2. For the past three years, I worked as a program coordinator then a teacher at a STEM high school in Washington, D.C. (The high school was still in the early stages of fully developing its STEM program. The high school is a Title 1 School comprised of approximately 99% African-American.)

      3. As part of my job as the program coordinator for the Office of Out-of-School-Time, I worked with institutions such as US FIRST Robotics Competition, which provided our students with rigorous hands-on skills development in engineering. I also presided over our school’s partnership with the ACE (Architecture, Construction and Engineering) Mentors Program, which brought professionals in these fields to our school to work with high school students and mentor them in learning and gaining hands-on exposure to these fields. These are but two examples.

      4. One example of how I leveraged my relationships (forged through PROMISE) with those in the STEM fields is by inviting a STEM professional who earned his PhD in math to serve as a Black History Month speaker who could exemplify our Black History Month theme of “Young Black, and Gifted.” The idea was to match successful young Black professionals with courses that related to their fields. Dr. Glover delivered a highly effective presentation to students in a math class — engaging them in a hands-on project that demonstrated the ideas behind his research and sharing ways that math applies to the real world, and providing examples of professions that they could pursue, among other things.

      5. Finally, as a teacher, I understood that even as I taught English, a STEM approach could be integrated — by using technology, engaging students in project-based and problem-centered learning, and using inquiry-based teaching methods.


      • February 1, 2015 at 9:41 PM #

        Thank you! When we learned that you had taken a job as a teacher in a STEM program, we began to check others’ career paths, and we found that among PROMISE participants who weren’t in STEM fields, you were NOT an anomaly. This was encouraging to us, and we decided to investigate further. Hence, this study. Thank you for being one of our initial inspirations!


  9. Emerald L. Christopher
    January 26, 2015 at 10:17 PM #

    I became involved with PROMISE during my first semester at UMBC as a Doctoral student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program. I distinctly wanted to be involved as I had little interaction with peers in my previous graduate programs. At the welcome dinner I had the opportunity to meet faculty of color as well as students in a variety of programs and departments on campus. This initial meeting and interaction provided the environment for me to meet my future mentors and form friendships that have been instrumental in my success as a student. During the summer of 2014 I had the opportunity to participate in PROMISE’s Dissertation House at UMBC. Having the time to organize my thoughts, work out a plan of action with Dr. Carter-Veale, and meet others that were going through what I was going through, allowed me to push myself further. The programs offered by PROMISE gives student participants a sort of entourage, a cheering squad to stay motivated throughout the process from start to finish. Though my research interests and academic focus is not in a STEM field, I am very familiar with STEM, engineering in particular, as my spouse and close friends are engineers. Moreover, prior to entering my program, I was a college administrator for close to 10 years. Throughout my former career I worked with students in the STEM fields and also encouraged students, particularly women, to enter the field. Though I intend to teach at the collegiate level in my field of study, I know that I will inevitably have STEM students who take my courses. It is in my hopes that my interactions with those students will continue to encourage them to focus on their successful graduation in a STEM field while incorporating the things they have learned from my courses.


    • February 1, 2015 at 8:11 PM #

      Thank you Emerald. Your commentary is interesting, as you are already planning for educating engineering students who will be taking your course as an elective. I think that your experiences with your spouse and friends remind us that programs like PROMISE can continue to be supportive of our target population, without being isolationists, thereby including students from all backgrounds. Thank you for participating.


  10. January 26, 2015 at 11:00 PM #

    Early Childhood Special Education, Ph.D.

    1. What did you know about STEM (in general, engineering in particular) research or advocacy before participating in the PROMISE AGEP?
    As an international student I while I knew about STEM fields of education I was not aware of the low representation of minorities in those positions in Higher Education. As a Graduate Assistant in the PROMISE AGEP office I became acutely aware of the importance on increasing awareness and infusing science, technology, engineering and math into my own research.

    2. Do you do any work, formal or informal with STEM research or advocacy.
    There are two areas that come to mind in which I see myself advocating for research in the STEM fields. As Research Associate and coordinator of four Maryland School County Education Doctorate’s I have suggested guided several doctoral students to focus on the programs offered in the various counties that promote and encourage participation in STEM activities. Suggestions have ranged from looking at curriculum, earned grades, and so on across various levels of the county school system.

    4. Are you working in an area of STEM research of advocacy now? 5. Do you have any plans to do any work in STEM research or advocacy in the future?
    At the moment I am discussing the potential for research with the administrators of two private school chains, which embed STEM into the curriculum in what I have observed to be a very seamless way. As an early childhood educator I am attempting to compare the awareness of various technological and scientific terms at one of the schools with that of a similar private school chain. The aim is to assess how the curriculum in both schools translates into change in students’ vocabulary over the course of one school semester.

    3. How has the PROMISE AGEP influenced your participation in STEM research or advocacy?
    I have been influence mainly through awareness. Mentoring incoming graduates students and interacting formally and informally have allowed me to see how effortless it can be to awaken awareness of students in STEM fields.

    My participation in PROMISE has significantly changes the way I approach supervision of Early Childhood Student Teacher Interns. I find myself often helping students note how technology is assisting students with disabilities access information and interact in the world. I attempt to highlight for students the ease of integrating scientific, technological, mathematic and engineering terms into a lessons taught.


    • February 1, 2015 at 8:16 PM #

      Dear Lenisa, Thank you for being an advocate at the K-12 level. It was wonderful to have you in our program, and it’s great to know that your experience with PROMISE has helped to frame some of the work that you are doing with students.


  11. Maritza Gonzalez
    January 26, 2015 at 11:54 PM #

    B. Guiding Questions:
    1. What did you know about STEM (in general, engineering in particular) research or advocacy before participating in the PROMISE AGEP?

    In high school I participated in a program at George washington university called the center for advancement of Hispanics in science and engineering (cahsee). That program introduced me to topics including vector based analytical geometry, economic engineering, c++, and various others. I learned about PROMISE as a ‘advanced special student’ prior to officially begin inning my masters degree. I attended an event on peer mentoring and and less than two years later found myself working as a PROMISE PEER MENTORING PROGRAM COORDINATOR.
    At that time I knew very little about STEM research and advocacy although knew of its importance in providing students of color in particular with such opportunities.

    Through the mentoring program I learned of the various needs students of color have as they pursue their stem fields. Although it was often more difficult to attract stem students as protégés, it was interesting to me to see how much they benefited from having access to someone else perhaps in different field (education) but who is also having similar struggles.

    The PROMISE staff, the events, the speakers, and the students themselves helped build a strong and supportive community. In the symposium which allowed us to learn of the research our participants was conducting provided an opportunity to learn further not only about the subject at hand, but why that student chose to look at that research in particular. Often, those stories were just as powerful as the research they conducted.

    Through our students’ stories, their struggles, their successes it was obvious why Promise was successful. In many ways PROMISE created the structure to help one another, uplift one anither, learn from one another and to this day (beyond graduation), remain connected to one another.

    Thank you for all that you’ve done, Dr. Tull, Dr. Rutledge, and of course our dissertation coach Dr. CV.

    2. Do you do any work, formal or informal with STEM research or advocacy.
    I would say yes. I work in k-12 and often provide students and their families on advice about college and careers. I often encourage my young students to pursue jobs in STEM fields. I encourage students to do their research and to learn about current research that influences their daily experiences.

    3. How has the PROMISE AGEP influenced your participation in STEM research or advocacy?
    PROMISE introduced me to students doing work in so many fields– ranging from nanotechnology and food, to drugs used to finding cures for various cancers, to research in women’s studies etc. I was indeed blessed to join this community. Not only did it find my education as a graduate assistant in the program, but it introduced me to others like me. Often being the only minority in the room you feel isolated. At UM, I had PROMISE. PROMISE also introduced me to scholars elsewhere through conferences such as SREB, and various other opportunities.
    Although I do not directly work for stem field, I can collaborate with and often do, with the science coordinator for reaching out to our families. My positive experiences through PROMISE has left me with a belief that our students can succeed with the support they need. I have already forwarded some of our graduating seniors to be in talks with Dr. Till and others in regards to getting in at UMBC in pursuit of a dream in engineering.

    4. Are you working in an area of STEM research of advocacy now?
    Again, I work in k-12 but am indeed supporting various initiatives involving stem. One of our schools needed support (mentor infect) and my role helped support the professor who was applying for a grant. In addition, there’s another Organization that is seeking to host a pilot program in our schools and I am supportive of it. We are also trying to educate our families on the importance of science, environmental literacy.
    In many ways I am advocating for science.

    5. Do you have any plans to do any work in STEM research or advocacy in the future? I hope to continue in supporting youth achieve their dreams so absolutely!

    Thank you PROMISE!!!


    • January 28, 2015 at 9:45 AM #

      Dr. Gonzalez provided the following information via email this morning. She wanted to make sure that I had this information, and consented to having it posted here as evidence of her peripheral connections to STEM at the K-12 level. Dr. Gonzalez received the information from Juan Garcia of

      Hello my friends,
      The Condition of STEM 2014 report (also attached) is now available on the ACT website. This is the second edition of the Condition of STEM series.

      Key national findings:
      Almost half (nearly 900,000) of the students who took the ACT® college readiness assessment indicated an interest in STEM.
      Of those students, 17% had a measured interest but did not express an interest in pursuing a STEM major or occupation.
      Students with a measured and expressed interest in STEM continue to outperform their peers academically.
      Interest in teaching STEM subject areas is at a critically low level.

      To view key findings for your state, click here.


  12. Anonymous
    January 27, 2015 at 3:00 AM #

    A. Curriculum and instruction
    B. besides having a few stem majors in education classes, I didn’t know much about the stem fields until I joined the Agep program. It was during my participation in promise activities that I met many bright, highly-motivated people majoring in areas that I’d never heard before. Our interactions provided the opportunity to learn more about their fields, learn more about the successes and challenges they had, and even encouraged me to pursue an assistantship to advise engineering students.
    3. In my current role as a researcher, I have encouraged high school students to pursue Stem fields, shared internship opportunities with them, and I’ve also evaluated Stem programs.

    4. Yes, I conduct evaluations in various Stem-related projects and have also supported research in programs geared to increase minority populations and women in Stem fields.

    5. Yes, I’m currently working on an evaluation project seeks to understand the 10 year impact of a Donation to stem students from a major pharmaceutical company.


    • January 30, 2015 at 7:53 AM #

      This is so exciting. Thank you for your work. It’s especially interesting to this project to learn of your graduate assistantship that mentored students from engineering.


    • February 1, 2015 at 8:18 PM #

      Thank you for this entry, and for encouraging students to pursue STEM programs. It’s interesting to note that you are doing research in areas to broaden participation in STEM.


  13. Angela McRae
    January 27, 2015 at 4:14 PM #

    1. What did you know about STEM (in general, engineering in particular) research or advocacy before participating in the PROMISE AGEP?
    Before participating in PROMISE, I had little to no knowledge of engineering research/education. My graduate assistantship in the Department of Education was with a project that involved creating a Reading/Science integrated curriculum, and training teachers in instructional strategies for teaching Reading and Science. My field of study was Human Development, with a specialization in Educational Psychology.

    2. Do you do any work, formal or informal with STEM research or advocacy.
    Yes. I am currently the coordinator for STEM Education for the teacher preparation program at my institution. I have also been asked to create a STEM Center for the institution, and I am working with several faculty and administrators to create a plan and proposal for the center. Over the course of the last two years, I have collaborated with faculty in Engineering to write grant proposals for programs that would provide professional development for teachers in Washington DC in Science and Engineering. I also volunteer for an organization that works with teachers to create NGSS aligned curriculum for the DC Public School district.

    3. How has the PROMISE AGEP influenced your participation in STEM research or advocacy?
    I have made important connections with STEM students and faculty through PROMISE, and this helped to broaden my perspective for possible fields of research. Attending the many PROMISE workshops and institutes helped to demystify STEM for me, and to make it more accessible. When approached with opportunities to work directly in the areas of STEM, I was much less hesitant due to my familiarity with the field gained through my involvement in PROMISE.

    4. Are you working in an area of STEM research of advocacy now? Yes (see #2)

    5. Do you have any plans to do any work in STEM research or advocacy in the future?
    Yes. I plan to continue working in the areas mentioned above, and hope to expand my research to some international studies in STEM Education. I hope to use my experiences to improve the preparation of teachers in STEM, and to advocate for strong STEM curriculum at the grade school and university levels.


    • January 30, 2015 at 7:51 AM #

      Thank you for your response Angela. You may be interested in some of the teacher preparation sessions that take place at the ASEE conference. It may also be helpful to look at the training that is used to prepare teacher-facilitators for “Project Lead the Way.”


  14. Mario Sto. Domingo
    January 27, 2015 at 10:49 PM #

    A. Please share your field of study.

    My doctoral training was in the area of Community and Applied Social Psychology. My research is focused on the efficacy of STEM programs (university, K-12, community) in increasing representation of URMs in STEM across educational levels, professions and institutions. I am currently doing evaluation research on the adaptation of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in two universities.

    B. Guiding Questions:
    1. What did you know about STEM (in general, engineering in particular) research or advocacy before participating in the PROMISE AGEP?

    Before learning about PROMISE, I have known about the phenomenon of underrepresentation of URMs in STEM, underrepresentation of women in STEM, particularly in engineering.

    2. Do you do any work, formal or informal with STEM research or advocacy.

    As I’ve mentioned above, I am engaged in evaluating STEM programs that seek to broaden participation in STEM, and increase representation of URMs in STEM fields. I’ve done evaluation of K-12 after school programs, community- based school programs and STEM scholars programs in universities.

    3. How has the PROMISE AGEP influenced your participation in STEM research or advocacy?

    PROMISE AGEP has made me realize the importance of support for STEM students and professionals across educational levels, especially for graduate students and those aspiring for the professoriate.

    4. Are you working in an area of STEM research of advocacy now?

    I am working on STEM research as I’ve mentioned above.

    5. Do you have any plans to do any work in STEM research or advocacy in the future?

    I believe I will remain a STEM evaluation researcher for the rest of my professional career.


    • January 30, 2015 at 7:48 AM #

      Thank you Mario. Early on, we took the approach that social sciences are part of the “S” in STEM, and the approach was confirmed by the former NSF director. Your research definitely shows connection to STEM in methodology and content. Congratulations on your recent presentation on this topic at the ABRCMS conference.


  15. Inte'a DeShields
    January 29, 2015 at 1:15 PM #

    My program is Language, Literacy, and Culture. While my background is in humanities and social science I have worked in tech development, lead workshops on public speaking at National Black Engineer of the Year Awards Conference. During my time at UMBC I have worked as a research assistant exploring the role of language int he K-12 STEM classroom and currently work as a research assistant working with teachers in the humanities and STEM on developing social justice projects in their respective subject areas. I plan to pursue and create opportunities in interdisciplinary areas of advocacy.


    • February 1, 2015 at 7:44 PM #

      Thank you Inte’a. I am particularly interested in your connections to engineers during the BEYA conference(s). Thank you for sharing your expertise in this area. I wonder if some of your past experience with a software development company has contributed to your connections to engineers.


  16. January 30, 2015 at 9:05 AM #

    A. My field of study is African American history, with a focus in 19th century black American women.

    B. Guiding Questions:
    1. What did you know about STEM (in general, engineering in particular) research or advocacy before participating in the PROMISE AGEP? As a former school teacher, I was familiar with the STEM field. I only learned about the PROMISE AGEP program once I began researching funds for my graduate program.

    2. Do you do any work, formal or informal with STEM research or advocacy. When I was a middle school teacher, I integrated many of the STEM components into my Social Studies curriculum. I also work as a teacher trainer and I help teachers to find ways to integrate their key components into Social Studies and History curriculum.

    3. How has the PROMISE AGEP influenced your participation in STEM research or advocacy? It has made me aware of how important it is to encourage my female and African American students to explore these fields as possible research areas.

    4. Are you working in an area of STEM research of advocacy now? I am not currently working in any area of STEM research.

    5. Do you have any plans to do any work in STEM research or advocacy in the future? I am interested in finding ways to collaborate with STEM researchers to make broad connections between African American History and STEM (the idea of exploring the new field of STEAM).


    • February 1, 2015 at 1:46 PM #

      Thank you Dr. Whitehead. Your leadership in the “PhD Roll Call” exercise for the PROMISE AGEP Summer Success Institute, has been inspirational. Several years ago, you implored the audience of the SSI to achieve, based on the sacrifices of their ancestors, and based on the memories of those people from our varied histories who had not had a chance to pursue education. Many students in STEM have been inspired by you!


  17. Shanna Smith
    January 30, 2015 at 9:41 AM #

    A. My field is American Studies, specializing in African American Literature and Culture

    B. Guiding Questions:
    Having been in the field of Arts & Humanities for my entire educational experience and teaching career, I had no awareness of STEM prior to participating in the PROMISE Program. Or, maybe I should say I had no awareness of the acronym; I have always had friends who studied and worked in engineering. I knew about NSBE and about the summer enrichment programs that universities sponsored for middle and high school students. Other than in journalism, there was no other summer enrichment program for me, and I was a little jealous of the support that I knew kids interested in engineering got. I knew they got scholarships to support their interests and I did not. By the time I was an undergraduate, I knew my engineering friends were going to be better paid.

    The work that I do now as an English professor at a university is work with students on their writing and critical thinking skills. I lay that kind of groundwork for every student, including students majoring in STEM. So, I am actually supporting STEM by helping them to become better writers for the field. I can also say that I have be-friended a graduate student of color in biology that was a little lost in her new department. So, I have been advising her based on what I learned about STEM, about funding sources, and other necessary resources through the PROMISE Program. Then, I connected her with PROMISE, even though we are in another state, so that she can get concrete support that I cannot give. In a way, I advocate for STEM by advocating the PROMISE Program.

    PROMISE has influenced so much of what I am doing now, professionally. I was a graduate assistant for five years with PROMISE at the University of Maryland College Park campus. So, not only was I a participant and mentor, I had a solid understanding of the mission through my work planning and helping to implement the workshops, research symposia, and conferences hosted by PROMISE. I attended nearly every event. I even wrote and edited a newsletter in which I interviewed STEM students, featuring them and their success. STEM students across all three University of Maryland campuses were my friends — we talked, wrote, and socialized together. We attended conferences together. Because of this, I am well versed in STEM and the resources that support STEM students. I am able to share that information with nieces and nephews interested in biology and technical careers, with friends children with engineering majors, and with students here at my university. What I have attained through PROMISE is a network of information and support that is cyclical. I benefited and now the young people around me benefit. It might sound corny (but I’m an English person), but PROMISE has kept its word.

    I am not working in an area of STEM research.

    I do not have plans to conduct STEM research; that is just not my area of interest or expertise. However, because of my background with program development, I cannot say that I will not do programming that advocates for STEM and NON-STEM in the future. In fact, I would love the opportunity to do so later in my career.


    • February 1, 2015 at 1:18 PM #

      Thank you Dr. Smith. Your contributions to engineering also included features in a newletter that you founded for the PROMISE AGEP (housed at the University of Maryland College Park), “A PROMISE to Keep.” In your May 12, 2007 edition,, you featured several engineering students, many of whom have now finished their PhDs in engineering. Among them, we find accolades for students in mechanical engineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, engineering management, information systems, and computer science. One of the students whom you profiled back in 2007, Oliver Myers, is now a tenured professor of mechanical engineering at Clemson, You and Oliver were in some of the same cohorts for the SREB Compact for Faculty Diversity Conferences, and your creativity in creating products such the the newsletter, “A PROMISE to Keep” were very valuable with regard to chronicling student achievement, and reporting to the National Science Foundation. Thank you for your participation.


  18. February 1, 2015 at 1:07 PM #

    Dr. Autumn Reed has given me permission to post on her behalf, via email. Dr. Reed was a graduate student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture (LLC) program at UMBC, which is the same program as 6 of the other respondents in this project. The LLC doctoral program is the humanities and education doctoral program at UMBC.

    Dr. Reed describes her research interests as:
    Critical Discourse Analysis, Discourse Analysis, Race and Ethnicity, Language and Power, Gender, Religion and Gender, Feminism, Islamic feminism, Women’s Studies and Sexuality, Women’s Studies, Women and Gender Issues in Islam, Cultural Studies, and Media Studies (per her website: Per UMBC’s website for Spring 2015 teaching of the First Year Seminars (, “Autumn M. Reed, Program Coordinator for Faculty Diversity Initiatives, earned her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture. Her dissertation applies the theoretical framework of Orientalism and Postcolonial Feminism and the method of Critical Discourse Analysis to examine American news coverage of the “honor killing” of Noor Faleh Almaleki as a site for the discursive construction of boundaries between “dominant” members of the American nation and Muslim, Middle Eastern, South Asian migrants. Her research interests intersect with the fields of Modern, Languages, Linguistics and Intercultural Communication; Gender and Women’s Studies; Media Studies; and American Studies. Dr. Reed will be teaching FYS 107: American Orientalism.”

    As a student, Dr. Reed participated in the PROMISE AGEP Dissertation House with others who were part of the LLC program, . She has been a strong supporter of AGEP through her work with diversity initiatives for the campus.

    As UMBC’s Program Coordinator for Faculty Diversity Initiatives,, Dr. Reed is a member of the Executive Committee for UMBC ADVANCE to support women faculty in STEM, based on a grant from the National Science Foundation: Dr. Reed is very involved in issues of recruiting diverse STEM faculty, and is particularly involved in working to recruit diverse faculty in engineering, CS, and IT. Dr. Reed is a member of the national ADVANCE Implementation Mentors (AIM) Network , and is part of a project that specifically works with women faculty in engineering, computer science, and IT in Puerto Rico. Dr. Reed will be the lead presenter for a presentation that features an idea to advance women from these fields at the upcoming 2015 Women in Engineering Proactive Network (WEPAN). In 2014, Dr. Reed was part of WEPAN panel with colleagues from other schools on leveling the playing field for women in engineering: “NSF ADVANCE Programs: Leveling the Playing Field for Women Faculty” (speakers: Peggy Layne, Jenna Carpenter, Autumn Reed, Marci Levine). Dr. Reed also presented our paper on future programming for postdocs at the WEPAN conference in 2012: Further, in 2013, Dr. Reed participated as a guest speaker on the topic of “implicit bias” for the Women in STEM forum at the Latin and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI) in Mexico in 2013. Dr. Reed is the lead author for a submitted abstract for the 2015 ASEE International Forum. The project specifically focuses on international engagement of diverse women in engineering, CS, and IT.


  19. February 1, 2015 at 7:37 PM #

    Adding with permission from a co-author:

    Dr. Alexis Williams:

    I didn’t know a whole lot about the demands of STEM research or advocacy before participating in PROMISE. Prior to my grad studies in education, I was a biology major – briefly – in a living-learning program for STEM that included engineering components. However, I never developed an identity in the sciences. The living-learning program was still developing and did not understand how to help me identify with the STEM goals in a way that made me feel included. Eventually, our group project focused on education, and I didn’t think much about STEM or engineering again until I interacted with other graduate students in PROMISE who loved what they did. I learned about their passions and struggles, and I was a little jealous that I didn’t stick with the sciences. Just a little, though – I love what I do now, too!

    My work has some direct and indirect components of STEM advocacy. I have had the honor of leading a series of courses and workshops on teaching professional development since obtaining my Ph.D. in education. My students and participants have included teaching practitioners, undergraduates, graduates, and university faculty, and they span from education and social science majors to engineers and computer scientists.
    As a direct result of my participation in PROMISE – attending workshops and retreats that address the demands and opportunities of STEM practice and research – I am able to speak some of the language of engineers and engineering educators, and I can connect with them on common issues. In particular, I am aware of challenges for underrepresented groups for opportunity selection, advancement, and promotion.
    For example, my graduate accountability partner was a mechanical engineering student who shared a lot of my same struggles but also taught me about what she did as an engineer and how she had to push to get help from her advisor. I met her at a PROMISE dissertation completion retreat and was introduced to her deliberately by one of the dissertation coaches. I might never have spoken with her on a deep level otherwise, even though we were sitting in the same room for three days.

    I also connected over the past year with a faculty member in STEM who invited me to work with him on a needs assessment of his research program. I learned about the research framework that his team used and our conversations led to my contributing several considerations for the developing assessment. He also challenged me to outline my own research agenda, which I still pursue, so our interaction was mutually beneficial.
    I have therefore focused many of my interactions on creating better opportunities for STEM students and faculty to create a professional system around themselves that pushes them forward, similar to PROMISE as the original best-practice model. This system includes accountability for goal-directed productivity, relaxing social outlets, high expectations for achievement, and effective decision-making based around holistic ideals that keep one balanced in both career and life in general.

    Yes, I am currently advocating through professional development research and program coordination.

    My current work is with faculty who span all disciplines at my university. I have to be able to command the respect of students and faculty in biochemistry, computer science, and electrical engineering in order to help them improve their teaching practice. If I am able to present pedagogical research in their discipline. e.g., in journals that address the teaching of engineering specifically, then I am garnering the buy-in of my audience. I have been in their classrooms and professional development meetings, and my background in educational psychology alone would not be enough if I could not speak from experience of having learned from and studied with physicists and engineers who back up my expertise.
    In addition to the structured educational programs that I run, I also make sure to connect informally as often as possible with those I support. Because my work over the past year allowed me to work with STEM graduate students and postdocs, I was able to follow up online and in person with several of them to help with career planning and applications, and just to check to see how they were doing and help celebrate victories.

    In my future efforts, I want to continue to support teaching practices in STEM and other disciplines. As I support STEM educational practices like helping teaching faculty to create opportunities for active, student-centered learning that accommodates diverse backgrounds, I also help create contexts for their students themselves to aspire to become researchers and faculty. In this way, I will help at least a little to repair that proverbial leaky pipeline. Currently I have plans to connect an engineering faculty member with a graduate student at a different university who shares similar interests in teaching research. The faculty member and I have been keeping in touch, and an informal conversation led to our discussing a possible collaboration with this student that should be worthwhile. My fingers are crossed.


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