Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation

The summer program through LSAMP was amazing. We talked math, learned math and played math games. The program has made a big difference for me.

So what exactly is STEM and why should we care? STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Workforce projections show that fifteen of the twenty fastest-growing occupations require substantial science or math preparation. However, the United States ranks twenty-seventh among developed nations in the proportion of college students who receive undergraduate degrees in science or engineering.

 “At Chico State, we want to make sure our graduates meet the expectations of the future work environment so they can compete in the global market place,” says Mike Ward, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management.

The need for STEM graduates who can enter the workforce with innovative ideas and problem-solving skills has never been greater. The Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) is one successful effort to educate students who have encountered past academic barriers in STEM. Collaborative-learning math workshops and a summer “Calculus Boot Camp” are among the activities. Students get further support by receiving stipends to attend conferences and help in applying to graduate schools. The program honors Louis Stokes, who overcame extreme poverty to become a congressman, attorney, and educator.

A fierce advocate for social justice, Louis Stokes would be proud of Olga Rundberg. Growing up in the small town of Live Oak (population: 8,500) in northern Sutter County, Rundberg is headed to graduate school to become a Doctor of Pharmacy. Back in 2006, Rundberg was encouraged by her family to be the first to graduate from college, but she was on her own to pay for it. Turning down admission offers from UCLA and UC Berkeley, she chose Chico State because of its location and affordability. With a passion for science, she knew she wanted to be a nurse, doctor or pharmacist. Her love for science didn’t transfer to math, however, until she had her “aha” moment while taking a trigonometry course from math professor and longtime LSAMP Director Lori Holcombe. Rundberg signed up for LSAMP the following summer.

“The summer program through LSAMP was amazing,” Rundberg says. “We talked math, learned math, and played math games. The program has made a big difference for me.”

Now, armed with a BS in cellular and molecular biology, Rundberg is navigating the graduate school application process in her quest to become a pharmacist. Holcombe remains her mentor.

“Teaching North State students to strive for excellence is my goal,” Holcombe says.

Two years ago, Forbes Magazine examined four hundred schools and ranked Chico State the fifteenth best college in the nation for racial or ethnic minorities pursuing STEM. Not only was Chico State the only California State University to make the list, only two from California—Chico State and Westmont College—were cited.

The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation is just one of many efforts that prepare Chico State graduates for the workforce of tomorrow.

Director Lori Holcombe and statistics major Nathan Felton
Director Lori Holcombe and statistics major Nathan Felton