Exploremos: supporting the advancement of minorities in stem

Celine Cortes, Kent Smith, Nicholas Czaplewski, Reggie Whitten, Jeff Hargrave

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Hispanics are highly under-represented minorities (URMs) in science in the U.S.A. In Oklahoma, Hispanics are the largest minority group, followed by American Indians. The student population at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences (OSU-CHS) is very diverse and includes Hispanics and American Indians. In 2010, the Native Explorers Program (NEP) was created to increase the number of American Indians who pursue STEM careers. The program introduces participants to various scientific disciplines, with an emphasis on vertebrate paleontology. It has been incredibly successful, with most former participants earning science degrees. In spring 2020, a novel program called “Exploremos” was created as an opportunity for two Hispanic college students to participate in the 2020 NEP. The NEP and Exploremos were canceled due to COVID-19.

The targeted population for Exploremos is Hispanic college-age students with a high-school degree or equivalent and a desire to continue their education. Despite Hispanics representing 16% of the U.S. workforce, they hold only 8% of STEM jobs. Exploremos was created to address their paucity in STEM. In efforts to recruit participants, we contacted campus diversity officers and distributed program materials to Oklahoma colleges and universities. Despite our efforts, we received fewer applications than anticipated. We are evaluating recruiting methods to increase applications for 2021.

Studies on STEM workforce diversity have indicated Hispanics lack encouragement to pursue STEM early in life, as well as educational resources and opportunities in STEM. Exploremos participants will learn from URM and non-minority OSU-CHS faculty, graduate and medical students, and scientific professionals. They will engage in activities within anatomy and vertebrate paleontology labs, and prospect for and collect vertebrate fossils at multiple field sites in Oklahoma. Exploremos will allow Hispanic students, regardless of scientific background, to explore STEM fields with support from URM mentors and peers. We hope this enrichment program will empower participants to pursue STEM, and become the next generation Hispanic STEM educators, researchers, and leaders.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 22 Feb 2021
EventOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Days 2021: Poster presentation - Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Campus, Tulsa, United States
Duration: 22 Feb 202126 Feb 2021


ConferenceOklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences Research Days 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Mentorship
  • Hispanic
  • STEM
  • Paleontology


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploremos: supporting the advancement of minorities in stem'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this