Two programs, Enhancing Postbaccalaureate Opportunities at Cal State Fullerton for Hispanic Students (EPOCHS) and CSUF’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers – Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research (MARC U STAR) are national finalists for Excelencia in Education’s “Examples of Excelencia” awards.
The two programs are the only California State University programs selected among the 20 finalists.
EPOCHS — and its sister program Strengthening Opportunities, Access and Resources, or SOAR — strive to create a campus culture promoting postbaccalaureate education, said Katherine Powers, director of graduate studies, one of the crafters of both programs.
The program offers a wide range of activities that help underrepresented students graduate, as well as provide support if students decide to earn a doctorate. It also provides monetary assistance for research projects required by university degree programs.
“For many, these students are the first in their families to enroll in postsecondary education,” said Powers. “They are often balancing work, school and family while working on their postbaccalaureate degree and, many times, feeling that they ‘don’t belong’ in a master’s program.”
Since the program began in 2010, the number of Hispanic graduate students has increased from 15.5 percent to 20 percent, from 691 Hispanic students in fall 2010 to 1,091 Hispanic students in fall 2016.
MARC U STAR, under the direction of Amybeth Cohen, professor of biological science, has supported underrepresented students interested in pursuing advanced degrees in biomedical or behavioral research for more than 20 years.
Participants join the program as juniors or seniors, are introduced to and involved in various types of research with faculty mentors, complete specific science courses and conduct research, including a project that culminates in a senior thesis.
Seventy-nine undergraduate students have taken part in the program; 85 percent of participants have entered doctoral programs at such institutions as UC Berkeley, Dartmouth, Yale and Scripps Research Institute over the last 10 years.
Among MARC’s alumni are Anita Nosratieh ‘07 (B.S. electrical engineering), who serves with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Vanessa Costello-Harris ‘09 (B.A. psychology), assistant professor of psychology at Indiana University, Kokomo.
“Examples of Excelencia” is a national initiative to systematically identify and promote evidenced-based programs and departments effectively boosting Latino enrollment, performance and education. Last year, EPOCHS and Project MISS were both named finalists.