The Strategic Undergraduate STEM Talent Acceleration INitiative (SUSTAIN)
The SUSTAIN project leverages existing Syracuse University resources to enhance undergraduate STEM student learning, academic performance, retention to graduation, and STEM career or higher education placement. SUSTAIN features the following signature programming elements:
A. Pre-College Summer Launch Experience- The SUSTAIN immersion experience that takes place during the week prior to the start of classes, before other new students arrive on campus. Summer Launch includes campus tours given by former Scholars, science lab tours by STEM faculty mentors, an orientation to the array of student support services that will be integrated into the SUSTAIN learning experience, and fun community-building activities.
B. Residence Hall Living and Learning Community Experience – STEM Residential College
SUSTAIN Scholars will be assigned housing in a dedicated SUSTAIN Living Learning Community in Shaw Hall during their first year at SU. Scholars will be offered ongoing academic support in the dormitory (informal tutoring, advising, study groups), social connections with other SUSTAIN Scholars and STEM peers, and get general advice for navigating challenging first-year STEM courses from STEM upperclassmen.
C. Undergraduate STEM Seminar Course Series- Scholars will enroll in the Undergraduate STEM seminar course series each semester for their first two years. Special presentations by our network of campus support partners will include sessions on time management and study skills, issues around inclusivity, financial literacy skills, career soft skills, and community building as well as provide engagement with campus personnel and resources such as the Barnes Center for Health and Wellness; the Center for Learning and Student Success; the Writing Center; and the Office of Financial Literacy.
D. STEM Faculty Mentoring and Early-Immersion Undergraduate Research Program- Each SUSTAIN Scholar will be matched with an experienced STEM faculty mentor and postgraduate mentor in each of their first two years. Scholars will spend 2-4 hours each week during their first year observing and participating in the activities of the faculty mentor’s research lab. During their sophomore year, they will engage in guided, but independent, undergraduate research with their STEM faculty and postgraduate mentors.
E. Peer-Led Learning (PLTL) and the Learning Assistant (LA) Program – Training and Leadership Development- First year SUSTAIN students will engage in PLTL and/or LA experiences in their introductory STEM courses. In their second year, SUSTAIN students will be encouraged to partake in training to become Peer Leaders and/or Learning Assistants, thus taking on growing levels of responsibility and recognition within the SU STEM community.
F. STEM Career Development Workshop Series/STEM Job Shadowing- Programming will include a) study of STEM career profiles; b) career counseling and advising available to all STEM majors; c) workshops led by current SU PhD students and post docs; d) targeted support on topics such as applying for REU positions and STEM internships; and e) STEM job shadowing field trips to local STEM business and industry partner sites to foster local STEM networking opportunities for Scholars.
G. Near-Peer Mentoring by SUSTAIN Scholars- We will provide mentor training, as well as a modest stipend, for up to ten SUSTAIN Scholars each year who are sophomores, juniors, or seniors to serve as near-peer mentors for incoming cohorts of SUSTAIN Scholars and other first-year undergraduate STEM majors at SU. The near-peer mentors will actively participate in planning and implementing the annual Summer Launch experience, as well as assist with planning of activities within the STEM Seminar Course Series.
H. Community-Building Activities- SUSTAIN Scholars will engage in frequent, informal community building activities that nurture our Scholars sense of belonging and connectedness aa they pursue their STEM degree and career goals. Activities will include “pot-luck” dinners, field-trip outings to area STEM venues (e.g., Corning Museum of Glass, Syracuse Museum of Science and Technology) and an overnight camping trip to celebrate first-year retention success.