Freeman Hrabowski III, is a college president who has long fought for civil rights and racial justice. When he was 12 years old, he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Alabama—and got arrested. Such protests in the 1960s were crucial, he says, but largely symbolic.
For most of Hrabowski’s long career he says he has been trying to “move the needle” in a more concrete way—to increase the number of African Americans in STEM fields, and to bring in other underrepresented groups as well.
Hrabowski has been president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for nearly 30 years, and one of his signature programs there is called the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. Its goal is to help more minority students major in STEM fields, finish college, and become leaders in science and tech once they graduate.
The program is a proven success. A 2019 article in the journal Science found “no other major university has achieved similar outcomes” when it comes to retaining diverse students in STEM fields. And the program’s alumni are becoming leaders in their fields. A former Meyerhoff Scholar, Kizzmekia Corbett, helped create one of the COVID-19 vaccines and was named to TIME magazine’s Next 100 list of innovators.
But even this highly successful program has limits to how much it can do all by itself. And the challenge of bringing diversity to STEM is huge. Only about 2 percent of U.S. Ph.D.s in science and tech disciplines are going to African Americans each year.
So these days, Hrabowski is working harder than ever to share the secret sauce of the program. And big-name colleges are adopting it, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Pennsylvania State University.
For this week’s EdSurge Podcast, we connected with Hrabowski to talk about his long quest—and why today is such a critical moment in the fight to diversify science and tech.
Read the full article about diversifying STEM fields by Jeffrey R. Young at EdSurge.
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