The Scholars Program, sponsored by the Mid-America Transportation Center and the Nebraska Department of Transportation, is a multi-day conference designed to encourage students in underrepresented groups in the STEM fields. With the help of diverse faculty and on-site professionals, students are taught the necessary skills to succeed in higher education and continue on to obtain graduate degrees in their chosen STEM-related fields.
Due to the limitations of COVID-19, the eleventh iteration of the program was held virtually over three weeks. Using a series of Zoom sessions, students from historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, and other minority-serving institutions heard from experienced professionals and faculty during seminars and networking sessions. This year’s program hosted attendees from Prairie View A&M University, University of Nebraska - Lincoln, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Lincoln University, Southern University, and New Mexico State University.
The program began with a welcome reception where students and faculty were given the chance to learn about each other. The students shared their goals and aspirations in the STEM field and the agenda of the rest of the program was discussed. Each week was themed to explore a different topic. The first week gave “the why and how of graduate school” where Drs. Robert Hampshire and Marcus A. Huggans spoke on the opportunities available for graduate students, and past MATC scholars program participants led a panel on their experiences in graduate school.
Week two events revolved around “strategies for succeeding in graduate school” where students learned the ins and outs of graduate admissions, research fellowships and internship programs, and field studies. Week three was dedicated to the Industry and Graduate Expo and gave the students the opportunity for networking while learning about possible career and graduate paths.
The program was organized by MATC and NTC staff with the help of Professor and Interim Department Head at Prairie View A&M University, Dr. Judy Perkins. MATC gives special thanks to the faculty of the participating universities who gave presentations, attended the conference, and encouraged their students to participate.
All Scholars Program presentations are avialbe on the MATC YouTube channel.
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