University partners with Nevada State College and NPR to increase diversity and academic success

University offers hands-on programs through partnerships

University partners with Nevada State College and NPR to increase diversity and academic success

University offers hands-on programs through partnerships

Eight students from Nevada State College were chosen to be part of the first three-day GradFit program held Tuesday, May 27 to Thursday, May 29. The program is a collaboration between the University of Nevada, Reno and Nevada State College, which aims to diversify graduate student enrollment and promote academic success by giving students an in-depth opportunity to learn about the many opportunities for graduate school at the University. GradFit is targeted at students interested in continuing their education by pursuing graduate degrees in the fields of biology and psychology.

"This new partnership between the Office of Diversity Initiatives, the Graduate School and Nevada State College will provide the foundation for enhancing access and opportunity for historically underrepresented students to participate in world-class scholarship and research," David Zeh, University vice provost for graduate education and the dean of the graduate school, said.

This collaboration began to develop when Reginald Stewart, the University's chief diversity officer, visited Nevada State College in Henderson last summer. Stewart learned that Nevada State College has many undergraduate science and phycology students who are interested in continuing their education; however, Nevada State College does not have graduate-level programs creating the opportunity for the two Universities to collaborate.

According to the Center for Student Cultural Diversity's 2013 Annual Report, only 63 out of 3,082 students in the University's Graduate School and School of Medicine identified as African American and only 232 students identified as Hispanic. The University is hoping that programs like GradFit will make graduate school more accessible to historically underrepresented students.

"Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college and never even considered going beyond the bachelor's degree," Assistant Professor of Psychology at Nevada State College Laura Naumann said. "We believe this program will help demystify many of the unknowns of graduate school and reassure these students that they have the skills and abilities to obtain a graduate degree."

Naumann and Robin Cresiski, department chair of physical and life sciences at Nevada State College, accompanied the eight students during the program. The students learned about skills to prepare for the GRE, prepared personal statements, met with University of Nevada, Reno professors and visited the University's science labs. The students were also given the chance to tour campus and even visit Lake Tahoe on the last day of the program.

"GradFit has been really helpful, I had no idea what to expect," program participant Sam Goodrich, who is majoring in biology and duel minoring in chemistry and math, said on the last day of the program. "Getting to see the labs and learn about the application process has been really beneficial."

At the end of the program, the students felt better prepared to apply to Graduate school and were encouraged by the amount of resources the University offers to help guide them through the process. 

"Graduate school seems more tangible now and I know more about what I need to do for the process," GradFit participant Danette Barber, a phycology student, said. "It is a really great program."

The University plans to continue to develop the program but may potentially change the name to GradSchool 101 to complement the University's award-winning College Life 101 Program. According to Stewart, the goal is to eventually take students from Nevada State College and students from the University of Nevada, Reno and expand the program to 25 students.

"Both Provost Kevin Carman and President Marc Johnson are in support of us taking steps toward diversifying our graduate student body," Stewart said. "This is one first official step."

The University is focusing on advancing educational opportunities and academic success for the University's undergraduate students in other areas. One such program is through the Reynolds School of Journalism's partnership with NPR. 

Six students were chosen to be a part of the second annual NPR "next generation" multimedia boot camp. The partnership between NPR and the Reynolds School is the only one like it in the country and one of the objectives is to improve diversity of the future workforce in journalism and public media. The participating journalism students' chosen through a selective application process received a $500 stipend and were given the opportunity to learn from professionals in the field of radio to produce high-level journalism.

"This is a remarkable opportunity for a group of Reynolds School students to work hands-on with public media professionals to cover diverse topics, and to get paid doing it," Reynolds School Dean Al Stavitsky said. "And we're the only journalism school to work with NPR to offer this program."

Each student partnered with a professional mentor and, over the course of the week, created multimedia professional level stories.

"NPR and it's member stations support this program because it allows our professionals to work one-to-one with rising talent from diverse backgrounds," Doug Mitchell, director of the NPR's Next Generation Training Program, said. "The project allows our industry to keep building pipelines of new professionals who understand and embrace diversity and public media's unique way of storytelling."

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