Widening the Pipeline to Graduate School and the Workforce: Impact of the RiSE at Rutgers Summer Research Program

Widening the Pipeline to Graduate School and the Workforce: Impact of the RiSE at Rutgers Summer Research Program

Immanuel Williams, Rutgers doctoral candidate in Education Measurement and Statistics, and Rebecca Baerga, Rutgers PhD in Pharmacology 2008, attribute their academic trajectories and career success to their pivotal undergraduate experiences in the RiSE (Research in Science and Engineering) at Rutgers summer program. RiSE, a signature initiative of our Center for Graduate Recruitment, Retention and Diversity (GR2aD), exemplifies ODI’s commitment to promote diversity, inclusion and excellence in graduate programs by exciting undergraduates about research.

RiSE brings 35-50 talented undergraduates, primarily from other colleges, to Rutgers for a 10-week experience in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines, including social and behavioral sciences. Most students are from underrepresented groups, economically disadvantaged or first-generation-college families, or are differently-abled.  RiSE combines independent research under the guidance of carefully matched faculty mentors with intensive enrichment/ professional development.

Immanuel, an undergraduate mathematics major at the University of Maryland Baltimore Campus, credits RiSE with opening his eyes to the excitement of applying math to related areas. Immanuel’s summer epidemiology project led him back to Rutgers for his MS degree in Statistics and Biostatistics. He is now a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education. Immanuel says, “The ongoing mentoring and advising I received as a RiSE Scholar, throughout the graduate application process, and now as a graduate student have been invaluable in promoting my success and helping me obtain full funding.” Recognizing the value of giving back, Immanuel taught in South Africa this past summer and is now serving as a role model and ambassador to help recruit the next cohort of RiSE students.

Immanuel Williams           Rebecca Baerga

Rebecca, an undergraduate chemistry major at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, describes her RiSE summer as “the most amazing intellectual experience of my college career.” The RiSE program facilitated travel funding to a national conference, where she won a first place award for presenting her summer work. Rebecca’s experience inspired her to come to Rutgers for graduate school. After earning her PhD in the laboratory of Professor Victor Jin, she was awarded a prestigious New Jersey Commission for Science and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship and worked as a Project Manager at biotechnology start-up Niiki Pharma. Her passion to advance quality and equity in education motivated her to move to a position at the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton in 2013. As Lead Research Project Manager in the Center for Academic and Workforce Readiness and Success, she is able to have an impact in increasing the achievement and presence of under-represented minorities in STEM, a job function well aligned with the mission of RiSE. “I am excited and privileged to work for a company that has a commitment to rigorous research, 100% quality, and where fairness and equity in education informs everything we do.”

Immanuel and Rebecca are typical of 420 RiSE alumni over 14 years. RiSE has 100% rate of college completion, and 97% of alumni go on to advanced study or the STEM workforce. Almost universally, RiSE Scholars believe that the program was instrumental in solidifying their desire to go to graduate school and that RiSE provided the tools to promote success. Dr. Evelyn Erenrich, Director, says, “We believe RiSE has made a difference not only in the futures of talented individuals, but also potentially in the future of New Jersey and the nation. We actively seek sponsors who recognize that an investment in RiSE is an investment in preparing and attracting the diverse workforce that will drive innovation and competitiveness in the coming decades.”

For more information, to apply to RiSE for summer 2015, or to explore opportunities to partner with us, please email erenrich@rutgers.edu or visit rise.rutgers.edu.