Welcome to Hispanic Business LiveChat!
We would like to welcome our guest Elizabeth Cook, director of diversity and the Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) at the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering, taking your questions now.
Hello All! Looking forward to speaking with each of you today! I am excited to be a part of this LiveChat forum and hoping that I can be of assistance and answer some questions that you may have...Liz Cook
Mike from Austin, TX
What type of support programs or activities do you provide for the families of first generation students?
At the OU-College of Engineering we have several support services and our Multicultural Engineering Program is inclusive of all forms of diversity to include women, first generation college students, students facing disabilities, etc…Our first-generation students our afforded those same opportunities to include a Mentoring program, a pre-college summer acclimation ‘bridge’ program, the actual first-year orientation courses, an Engineering ‘Gateway to College’ opportunity for preparation and other similar programs. In our recruitment efforts we work with the entire family not just the student, to help everyone understand the adjustment and process of going to college and the changes that are going to occur to the family, the student and the parents. We are small enough still to be a hands-on program and really get to know our students but large enough and an integral part of the OU Engineering Network that we have access to resources, programs and funding to support our programmatic and scholarship needs.
Colonel (Ret) Jaime Torres from St. Louis, MO
Why do some Higher Education CEOs in this date and age have failed to appoint a Diversity Officer in their institutions when such a move can define their attitude towards diversity in their institutions?
This reality appears to be more prevalent in Community Colleges
Sir, to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t really know. I know for a fact and agree with you that appointing a Diversity officer at the executive level speaks of an institutions’ commitment to diversity, however, not every institution chooses to manage diversity and equity offices/programs/efforts in the same way. I was previously employed at the University of Washington, which has a very strong diversity program in the wake of a lot of negative backlash against diversity and the beginning of I-200/Propostion 209 a few years back…They have still maintained an Office of Minority Affairs and a Vice President of Minority Affairs. I currently work at OU in Norman, Oklahoma and we do not have this position in our institution yet, although I am sure this is something that is coming down the pipeline as diversity is not a topic that any campus anywhere in this nation can bother to neglect.
Pedro from Murrieta, CA
Ten years after dropping out of college I have recently returned to school to complete my undergraduate degree. Due to my previous poor academic performance, I was unable to receive any type of financial aid assistance, and since I am a working adult, the available programs to choose from were rather limited. Since most of the institutions that offer academic programs for working adults are private universities, the cost of tuition can be substantially more expensive than those institutions offering full time programs (normal four year degrees). Since returning to school I have excelled academically, but I have also accumulated debt; professors and academic advisers have recommended that I pursue a graduate degree, but I am concerned about accumulating any further debt.
My question: what are the available grant or scholarship programs for students with similar backgrounds as me? I am considering either business or law school...sorry for the length of the question. I will not be available for tomorrow's chat, but if you wish to answer privately, please do so at email@example.com
Thank you for participating and caring about the underrepresented.
Pedro – Congratulations on pushing ahead and rising above! You have and are achieving what was once considered the impossible! You are to be commended! As a former graduate student recruiter, I know that there are a lot of scholarship and grant programs at the graduate school level. There are a few options that you have and although this is not a comprehensive list by any means, please feel free to use this as a jumping off point for alternative funding sources.
You mentioned business or law school, funding for these types of programs (in my opinion) is often more limited then perhaps the sciences or engineering. I am assuming this is the direction you want to go in however, as you have not mentioned any other fields. Debt is a problem of all students in college, particularly those who continue to pursue a degree despite having low grades initially. Sadly, even after raising a GPA it is hard to find funding that is willing to consider your entire situation, and account for your life experience and the change you have made in your academic progress. If you choose to go to graduate school directly after graduation, I would really encourage you to seek out (just an option) employment that will pay for your studies or perhaps consider taking a position at a university so that you can have the benefit of tuition reduction or perhaps even some free courses depending on the program the university has for its’ employees, also another option is becoming a Teaching Assistant or working as a Research Assistant for a professor on his grant or in his/her research. If professors are encouraging you to attend graduate school now, you may want to speak with them regarding this. Most TA/RA positions are eligible for health insurance through the university, graduate housing etc…I realize this may be a financial income set back for 2 years or so, but it is worth cutting expenses, then racking up more debt.
I would also encourage you to get online and search several different key words Grad School Funding, Graduate level scholarships, nontraditional scholars, non traditional graduate student funding, etc…
I hope this was a little bit helpful, let me know if I can help you in any other way. Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org
Imelda Hernandez-Cruz from Atlanta, GA
I understand and support diversity in higher education, the future of this country depends on it. However, how can diversity be increased in universities and colleges if academically outstanding undocumented students have to pay very high tuitions, denying in a very disguised way, their attendance to higher education institutions and very few organizations provide them scholarships?
Ms. Hernandez-Cruz, I too have often struggled with this same question. I have been fortunate enough to be employed in some institutions that have made more advances in this area then others and have been forced by the public, the constituents, the students, etc… to rectify and come up with a workable solution for this situation. However, other schools are still trying to adjust to documented diversity issues and are not yet equipped or prepared to handle the unique needs of undocumented students. I would encourage students who are a part of this definition to seek out institutions of higher learning that are sensitive too the needs of an undocumented student until there is a standard that is mandated for educators and institutions across the board. I am by no means an expert in this field so please don’t think that my comments are legal mandates but on a personal and an educational level, I cannot agree more that we are missing out on talent that is beyond reproach in some of the policies that exist at institutions in America today. I have experienced this in my own classes and in our engineering program here at OU as students struggle to pay school fees and still perform in the classroom. It is a challenge that unfortunately does not have an easy answer at this time.
John from West Lafayette, IN
In order to improve diversity recruiting efforts. Which schools/ areas do you visits to get diverse applicants? Do you have an schedule of recruitments events?
If you are referring to OU- College of Engineering specifically we welcome applications from all over the United States and the world at large. In terms of specific recruitment efforts we do target Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and of course Oklahoma. We coordinate engineering recruitment efforts with our Prospective Student Services Office (Recruitment) for the University of Oklahoma and use them as a bridge to link us directly to engineering/science/technology based schools and programs. We do have some broader recruitment efforts to include National Achievement Scholar Programs, National Hispanic Scholar Programs, National Merit, etc…
Please email me at Elizabeth.email@example.com if you have specific questions related to your region and I would be happy to coordinate something with you. An actual schedule of recruitment events is available on our go2ou.edu website at http://go2.ou.edu/index.htm
Michael from Burbank, CA
My daughter just started the ninth grade, what should I be doing to prepare for her a college career? And is it too late?
No Michael! It is never too late and as they say sometimes it can never be too early! As a ninth grade student one of her primary focal points should be earning a strong high school GPA as this is the one that will support her applications to college and beyond. This is also the time to prepare her for the PSAT and perhaps even begin thinking about college in terms of her interests and educational goals. Pay attention to what tests certain schools require and make sure that you speak with her counselor at school to make sure she is in the "college track" and above all things, make sure she takes math and science and all the other courses ALL FOUR years! The senior year is not just to play around no matter what your child tells you if they are planning to attend college the following year!
Cristal from Arlington, VA
Do you see, as an administrator, that there's been a bigger focus on recruiting minorities for fields like engineering? What do you recommend students do to see if they would like the field before committing to it?
I have been recruiting students for several years and now that I work in engineering, I would say that there is a push to recruit ALL students, to the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) because our nation is in desperate need of fulfilling these roles in our society. Everything from Federal Govt positions to sustainable energy to teaching and designing and building etc…are all connected in some way to these 4 key areas. That is not to say that Political Science and English are not equally important, but this is the focus that I have seen on both the educational and the federal recruitment side. If a student is interested in engineering – visit a campus, ask to see the labs, ask to be escorted by a student, spend the day there. Also speak to colleagues, church members or family friends about engineering and see if a tour of a plant or a refinery, any engineering facility is available. Engineering touches every facet of our lives, there are so many different kinds of engineering. I encourage you to explore it!
Rod from Edmond, OK
Elizabeth, from your experience in talking with company officials, what do companies do to recruit minority students in order to increase diversity within their company's ranks? Thank you!
Rod, I can only speak about what I know is occuring here at OU, but many companies that recruit OU Engineers support and become involved with our multicultural engineering organizations (NSBE/SHPE/AISES/SWE/SAPE) and get to know students as students first as opposed to recruiting them cold turkey from a resume. Companies also sponsor organizational events and spend time helping students with resumes, working with OU alumni to help fascilitate connections and the like. Once minority students are recruited to engineering firms, there are also support and retention networks in place so that the new hire is not an island unto him/her self so that they have the opportunity to grown professionally, be mentored, etc...
Ramon from Los Angeles, CA
What sorts of jobs are some of your graduates getting out of school?
Our students are hired from companies all over the world from Exxon Mobil to Schlumberger to Hiland Dairy to Fed Express Corporate or the Airforce or Federal Government. Engineering affects every facet of our lives, so there is an engineering component to nearly every company in some form or fashion. In that vein, graduating engineers also go on to graduate school for research and teaching, Law school or Business schools. The world is wide open to them...It is one of the few remaining areas (in my opinion) that a student can graduate with a bachelor degree, enter the workforce and still earn a starting salary averaging 60K or higher without pursuing a graduate degree immediately!
Ramon from Los Angeles, CA
What are OU's qualifications for prospective engineering grads? What does the admissions committee look for in its applicants? Thank you!
Ramon, are you referring specifically to our Graduate Engineering Programs or to our Undergraduate Programs? If you like I can connect you directly with our recruiter and they can answer your questions too. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There are just a few minutes left in the chat if any readers have questions...please submit them now. Thanks!
William from San Diego, CA
Hello, Elizabeth. My son is giving some thought to engineering as a major (he's a senior at a local high school here). Is there something specific we should be looking for in colleges, engineering programs rather, to narrow the field for a minority student?
And, should we look at schools that have good grad programs attached, too, with resources for minority students?
My first instinct is to tell you to make sure that there are programs available at the school that are longstanding multicultural support networks and programs. This will make a HUGE difference in the engineering life of your child. Also, in terms of gradaute school, yes you want your child to be enrolled in a program that supports engineering research but it does not have to be a giant state institution in order to do that. Graduate school can be done in another location then undergrad-sometimes this is even recommended. Also, look at other rankings, look at who is hiring from that insitution and also pay attention to the alumni, the connection that students have to the campus but most importantly ask current students why they chose that specific program and why they stayed!
Imelda Hernandez-Cruz from Atlanta, GA
are there any possibilities for undocumented students at OU to receive financial help?
Yes, there are opportunities for undocumented students at OU to receive funding. If the student graduates from an Oklahoma high school and was a student enrolled in that high school for 2-3 years then they are eligible for state and university funding and scholarship programs but not federal grants or funding. This can be better answered from our Financial Aid office or the Office of Recruitment Services. www.ou.edu
I really hope this helped to answer your question.
Carmen from Milwaukee, WI
I have two questions for you:
We have a large population of Latinos in Milwaukee but very few of our students go on to higher education -- What can we do to reinforce the value of higher education to our youth and also their parents?
My second question concerns PEER motivation. What can we do as parents, educators, and community leaders to combat the gangs and other criminal activities that are motivating our children? What can we do to keep them in school and motivate them to excel and become our future leaders? I know it takes a village to raise a child -- how can we work with government and school officials to keep our children from dropping out?
Well Carmen, that is a big question for sure. I will try to answer these as best that I can. As for reinforcing the value of higher education throughout the Latino community, it takes time and it requires those that have made it to return ‘home’ whether that is neighborhood or school or community center and share those educational values and impart the meaning and change that education has created in their lives. Parents of first generation college students need to be educated that college is time consuming and can be overwhelming for students, it is very hard for them (student) to try and live a dual live of big sis/brother at home and maintain all of the family responsibilities in addition to going to collegiate level classes. If parents are better able to understand the commitment that students have to have to pursue a college degree, support may be more forthcoming instead of a primary concern of the bottom dollar line. In many multicultural families, parents just don’t understand the time commitment that college level studies take.
Dropping out of school is a problem that cannot just be resolved at the high school level. It is something that needs to be addressed across the board, and begins with teaching students to love learning at a young age and when this becomes second nature, slowly but surely environmental pressures will have less and less affect. I wish I had time to address your entire question today, but perhaps another time.
This concludes our Hispanic Business LiveChat -- a big thanks to Liz Cook from the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering. If you would like more information about OU (www.ou.edu) and its Multicultural Engineering Program, please contact Liz at email@example.com.