SD EPSCoR is helping to build a network between South Dakota’s American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) student chapters to strategize on ways to increase retention and graduation of American Indian students.
AISES chapters across the state came together as part of SD EPSCoR’s diversity efforts to build a pipeline of diverse students to enter STEM fields. The effort is designed to increase American Indian student success and encourage undergraduate research and professional development. The statewide meeting focused on key obstacles that American Indian students face when they enter college and the retention of students in STEM-focused fields of study. As a result, two dormant chapters have been reactivated, one new chapter is being created and discussions are underway to create a professional chapter.
AISES chapters seek to recruit STEM students to participate in active programs that broaden education and research by strengthening partnerships between public, private and tribal education institutions and build a network between industry, education and state government in South Dakota’s diverse STEM workforce.
The meeting shared successes they have had and constructed a list of recommendations to be adopted by all South Dakota universities and colleges to maintain interest in STEM and improve graduation rates of American Indian students. Specific topics discussed included:
- Addressing recurring needs on campuses to allow for more resources
- Creation of social events to network with students and faculty campus-wide
- Transition programs such as workshops to assist students in transitioning from school to the workforce
- Cultural competency training for faculty and staff
- Establishment of living and learning communities on campus
- Bi-weekly support sessions for freshmen
- Honor ceremonies
- Financial aid/scholarships workshops
The collaboration of the five participating universities helped students address and discuss similar challenges faced, share ideas and help build an action plan to increase retention. Participating universities and colleges included:
- Black Hills State University
- South Dakota State University
- South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
- University of South Dakota
- Sinte Gleska University
SD EPSCoR is funded by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR Grant Number IIA-1355423 and by the State of South Dakota.