Underrepresented students gain research skills in supportive environment
If the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program is meant to help underrepresented students transition from community colleges to four-year baccalaureate programs in the biomedical and behavioral research arenas, Binghamton University can most assuredly claim success.
With 18 students from three partner schools – Westchester, Monroe and Onondaga community colleges – attending Binghamton this summer for five weeks of research, the number of Bridges participants over the last 15 years now totals 278. But the success is more clearly told through graduation rates.
“We have phenomenal graduation rates,” said Bridges co-director Lisa Savage, professor of psychology. Of participants in Binghamton’s program, 88 percent transfer to a four-year college. With the national graduation rate hovering around 50 percent, and Binghamton’s graduation rate for its general student population at about 72 percent, Bridges students who attend Binghamton’s program and then go to any U.S. college for their bachelor’s degree graduate at a rate of 85 percent. Of those students, the ones who transfer into Binghamton do even better – 95 percent of them graduate with a bachelor’s degree, the vast majority in a science-related field. “And these are all underrepresented kids,” Savage said.
In fact, the program is so successful that its funding was recently renewed to the tune of over a million dollars over five years. One of our renewal goals is to try to get more participants to transfer to Binghamton. ”We’re also planning a celebration in the fall,” said Di Lorenzo. “We’ve had consistent funding of millions of dollars. We’ve got med school grads and PhDs to our credit. When they come to Binghamton it’s the first time they’ve ever been away from home. We do an amazing job.”