Minority achievement in science majors continues to lag, a new report indicates.
For Eric Adolphe, the price of an engineering degree included homelessness and hunger. Attending The City College of New York in the 1980s, he was down to his last $1.75 and had to skip breakfast so he could buy train fare to get to a crucial exam. He says he'll never forget his stomach growling loud enough for classmates to hear: "I'm competing with kids from all over the world ... having had nothing to eat for about two days."
A scholarship from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) came just in time to turn Mr. Adolphe into a symbol of the American dream instead of another college dropout. He went on to employ 400 people in one of the top black-owned engineering companies on the East Coast.
Now NACME is sounding an alarm, noting in a report Thursday that if trends don't change in education, there won't be enough Eric Adolphes to keep the United States competitive. The organization joins a number of groups that have been highlighting the gaps in college success for underrepresented minorities, particularly in science majors. They're also promoting strategies they believe can help close those gaps, whether it's mentoring minority college students, reaching out to show inner-city kids that science can be cool, or directing more financial aid to the students who need it most.
"We need to be concerned about maintaining American preeminence in science, engineering, and technology, and the reality is that unless we bring young minorities into [these] careers in dramatically increasing numbers, we're not going to be able to maintain that competitive edge," says Irving Pressley McPhail, NACME's executive vice president.
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