New Article: To Attract More Students to STEM Fields in College, Advocates Urge Starting in Sixth Grade

Posted by The Hechinger Report on November 23, 2021

Starting after his freshman year of high school, Amiri McKinnon packed his bags every summer and left his family home in Los Angeles for a five-week stay at the University of California, Los Angeles. McKinnon lived in the dorms and took classes alongside other teenagers interested in science, technology, engineering and math.  At no cost to him or his family, the program even provided him with his own laptop to use for his coursework.

The program, called SMASH, helped McKinnon realize he could harness his being “good at science,” make friends and eventually move out of L.A. After three years in the program, McKinnon was accepted to Morehouse College in Atlanta, a historically Black men’s college, where he is now a sophomore studying applied physics and mechanical engineering on a full-ride scholarship from SMASH.

SMASH is one of many organizations across the country working to eliminate barriers so that Black, Latino, low-income and first-generation students can earn college degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. It starts with students after ninth grade and continues to support them throughout high school, while they consider post-graduation options and while they are in college or launching careers.

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