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WSSU receives 2 Inspiring Programs in STEM awards

Students in WSSU's Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program participate in a team exercise. This month, the program will welcome the most diverse class in its history.

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has received two 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM awards from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

  • WSSU’s North Carolina Math and Science Education Network (MSEN), a year-round pre-college program for underrepresented children in sixth-12th grades.
  • The School of Health Sciences’ Early Assurance Programs, which create opportunities for WSSU undergraduate students to continue their education in one of the university’s competitive graduate programs.

WSSU is the only North Carolina-based college or university chosen for the award for 2019, and one of only two in the nation to receive multiple awards. Inspiring Programs in STEM Award winners were selected by the magazine based on efforts to inspire and encourage a new generation to consider careers in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – through mentoring, teaching, research, and successful programs and initiatives. 

Logo: 2019 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity

Both programs will be featured along with 48 other recipients in the September issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Early Assurance Programs
Early Assurance Programs were established in December 2015 to create opportunities for WSSU undergraduate students to continue their education in one of the university’s high-demand graduate programs: Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (OT).

The agreements – the first of their kind at an HBCU – assure early acceptance into the programs for WSSU undergraduates who meet program admissions requirements. Since 2016, 11 WSSU graduates have taken advantage of the programs.

To support the initiative, both departments also have revised their admissions processes and enhanced recruiting and outreach efforts to increase visibility among WSSU undergraduate students.

This month, OT is welcoming the most diverse class in its history, said Dr. Cynthia Bell, associate professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy. 

“We’re thrilled to be recognized nationally for the Early Assurance Programs,” Bell said. “The efforts of our faculty are not only opening the door for deserving WSSU students to pursue a graduate degree, but also helping to create a diverse healthcare workforce here in North Carolina.”

Since 2016, diversity in the DPT program has increased by 30%, much higher than the national average, said Dr. Lynn Millar, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy.

To support the initiative, DPT faculty have supported the launch of a pre-physical therapy student club and have created programs to enhance retention among WSSU undergraduate students.

“Our faculty and staff have shown incredible dedication and determination to make our diversity efforts a success,” Millar said. “As we continue to enhance the program, we are expecting even more WSSU undergraduates to benefit.”

Math and Science Education Network (MSEN)

The North Carolina Math and Science Education Network (MSN) is the largest pre-college program at WSSU.

MSEN, which launched in 2004, offers year-round programs for elementary, middle and high school students from Forsyth County that focus on math and science careers. About 250 students take part in MSEN annually. The program is through the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education.

Students who have completed the program are eligible to receive scholarships ranging from $500 to $3,500.

“We offer a range of hands-on programs to equip students from underrepresented populations to pursue majors in STEM fields,” said Joseph Baker, coordinator of MSEN, “We’re proud that 95% of students who complete our program attend either a two- or four-year university after graduating from high school, and 80% of those students pursue a STEM major.”

The is the second consecutive year the university has received multiple Inspiring Programs in STEM awards. In 2018, Girls Empowered in Math and Science (GEMS) and the Women in Science Program (WISP) were recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity. 

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine is the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

Students in WSSU's Math and Science Education Network (MSEN) pre-college program work on a computer project. The program, for third-12th-graders, launched in 2004.

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