Funding needed to keep science programs for young people viable


Anyone who knows Professor of Biology Surendra Singh, Ph.D., knows that he values helping young people – at Newman or elsewhere in the community. In fact, that desire led him to develop science programs specifically for high school students, such as the Investigative Summer Science Program (ISSP) and the Newman Hispanic Scholars Program (NHSP).

Both are designed to encourage students to complete high school and consider going to college by making learning a fun and exciting experience, and making them aware of career choices. They also help fulfill Newman’s mission of providing education with special regard to persons who are disadvantaged.

Today, however, both programs are underfunded to the point that, for the first time, Singh may need to limit the number of participants.

“The current need for funding both programs is desperate,” Singh said. “The ISSP gets some funding from outside sources, but there is no funding outside Newman for the Hispanic Scholars Program for the fall 2009 semester.”

Singh created the ISSP 20 years ago in response to the national concern about the diminishing number of young people pursuing careers in the sciences. During the two-week summer program, participants live on campus and perform research using established scientific methods. Newman waives tuition and awards students two hours of college credit for completing the program, while a grant from The Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation covers students’ room and board. Singh noted, however, that he needs another sponsor to keep student enrollment at 20.

The NHSP was created in 2001 to address the higher secondary school drop-out rate for Hispanics compared to other racial or ethnic groups. Each fall, 20 Hispanic students perform research and benefit from hands-on training from Newman faculty and professional guest speakers. Like the ISSP, Newman waives tuition and awards students two hours of credit for their work.

Singh said he has heard more than one student say neither of their parents graduated from high school, and that they never expected to set foot on a college campus, yet now they are determined to graduate from high school and enroll in college.

“This program offers the chance for Hispanic students to foster positive experiences within a college community and examine career choices that, prior to their participation, may have seemed impossible for them,” he said.

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