Tarleton Program Offers Support, Resources for STEM Students


Thursday, March 24, 2022

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — About 40 Tarleton State University students enrolled in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs are part of a unique program funded by the President’s Fund for Excellence.

The STEM Scholars Program was created in 2021 to improve diversity, equity and inclusion of underrepresented, first-generation and economically disadvantaged students in Tarleton’s STEM fields.

Member students from within the College of Science and Technology meet monthly in workshops with faculty mentors, alumni and peer-mentors who provide resources and direct professional development activities.

Biology Associate Professor Dr. Dustin Edwards is a faculty mentor in the program that focuses on practical career development exercises.

“We meet in the evenings in one big group,” he said. “We have all the faculty advisors there, someone from each department, and we have an activity we do together.”

At a recent meeting, students prepared a curriculum vitae.

“We gave a presentation on what they are, how they’re used, and we gave students a template to work with,” Dr. Edwards said. “The students all worked together, compared their work, tweaked them for their own style and then submitted them to the mentors.”

The mentors provided instant feedback and responded to questions.

At other gatherings mentors Drs. Lynal Albert and Rajani Srinivasan shared experiences and advice applying for post-graduate degree programs and interviewing. Another time, faculty mentor Dr. Zahra Pournorouz led members in submitting a scholarship application.

“We have a lot of students from families who have not had siblings in college before. In a lot of cases they might not know what these things are. Our goal is to make sure they have this valuable information.”

One student in the program, senior math major Aurod Ounsinegad from Austin’s Vandegrift High School, visited Tarleton’s Stephenville campus several times for high school FFA career development events.

“I enjoyed being on campus, the environment here and how affordable it is,” he said. “I absolutely loved it.”

He was one of several invited speakers to present about the benefits of participating in student organizations for the first STEM Scholars meeting.

“I knew a lot of the professors, and they explained the idea of giving resources to students in STEM programs,” he said. “I really loved the idea of getting more real-world experience and knowing what my career is going to look like after I get my degree.”

Aurod was a biomedical major before switching to math. He plans to get his PhD in biomedical informatics and wants to work for Pfizer or the Centers for Disease Control as a lab instructor using mathematical modeling to mitigate the spread of arthropod-borne viruses.

He credits the STEM Scholars program with boosting his knowledge about getting into graduate school as well as how to properly present himself.

Membership in STEM Scholars is open to students in any science, technology, engineering or math major. For more information regarding this program, please contact Drs. Eileen Faulkenberry, Lynal Albert, Dustin Edwards, Chris Mitchell, Zahra Pournorouz, or Rajani Srinivasan.

A founding member of The Texas A&M System, Tarleton State is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of more than 16,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.