"The students not only display strong academic skills but theatrical talent, too."

– Jo Ann Kvamme, program coordinator

High School Scholars Visit U of A to Gain Geosciences and STEM Skills

High School Scholars Visit U of A to Gain Geosciences and STEM Skills

High School Scholars Visit U of A to Gain Geosciences and STEM Skills

by Andra Parrish Liwag

This week, 25 high school juniors from across the nation are visiting the University of Arkansas to take part in the Math, Science and Engineering Academy pre-college outreach program – known as MSEA – in partnership with Fort Valley State University in Georgia.

"It's a wonderful experience," said Jo Ann Kvamme, program coordinator in the Department of Geosciences in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. "For the sixth year, these rising high school juniors will attend classes and participate in field trips learning about geosciences, electrical engineering, hydroelectric power generation, and 'big data' at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters in Bentonville."

Geosciences professor Steve Boss is Kvamme's co-coordinator for the program, and classes are taught by Boss, geosciences emeritus John Van Brahana and electrical engineeringassistant department head Robert Saunders from the College of Engineering.

MSEA is a part of the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program at Fort Valley State University, and its aim is to introduce academically talented minority and female students to the fields of energy, mathematics, earth science, biology, engineering and computer science. Ultimately, the mission of both the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program and MSEA is to create a pipeline focused on the recruitment and placement of these scholars for professional careers in the energy industry.

The University of Arkansas partnered with Fort Valley State University in 2010, and since then each summer MSEA students visit campus and the surrounding area. Once these high achieving students graduate from high school, they are offered a scholarship to attend Fort Valley State University where they can enter the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program and major in biology, chemistry or mathematics.

At the end of three years, students will have completed their bachelor's degree and can transfer with their scholarship to a partner institution like the U of A, where they can major in either geosciences or engineering, completing a second bachelor degree in two additional years. Along with the U of A, partner institutions include Georgia Tech, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Penn State University, University of Rio Grande Valley and the University of Texas-Austin.

"The program is a win for everyone," said Isaac J. Crumbly, founder of the two programs and Fort Valley State University's vice president for career and collaborative programs. "Fort Valley is able to attract and nurture talented students, who may otherwise not have considered a profession in STEM fields. Partners, like the University of Arkansas, are able to draw transfer students who have a proven track record of academic success in STEM disciplines. However, the biggest winner is the student who has been mentored through high school, exposed to career choices, receives a scholarship for two bachelor's degrees and guidance as they progress into either graduate programs or the professional world."

Crumbly, two additional team members of the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program and four college student counselors from Fort Valley State University are also accompanying the students at the U of A this week.

Kvamme said each year MSEA culminates with the students creating and performing skits at the U of A that demonstrate the complex principles they have learned in the classroom.

"This is an extremely entertaining and educational performance," she said. "The students not only display strong academic skills but theatrical talent, too."

The 2016 MSEA performance is free and open to the public. It will take place on Friday, June 17 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. in Giffels Auditorium inside Old Main.

About the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program: The Cooperative Developmental Energy Program has been operational for over 30 years under the direction of Fort Valley State University's Vice President for Career and Collaborative Programs and founder, Isaac J. Crumbly, a native of Forrest City, Arkansas. Crumbly was the recipient of the 2014 Bromery Award for Achievement in Advancing Diversity in the Geosciences from the Geological Society of America, was the 2010 recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Arkansas, and has dedicated himself to making a significant increase in the number of minority and women entering the energy field.

About the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences: The J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is the largest and most academically diverse unit on campus with 19 departments and 43 academic programs and research centers. The college provides the core curriculum for all University of Arkansas students and is named for J. William Fulbright, former university president and longtime U.S. senator.

For more information on the the Cooperative Developmental Energy Program or MSEA programs, please visit http://www.fvsu.edu/academics/cdep/.


Andra Liwag

About the author

Andra Liwag serves as director of communications for the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.