Small Office Makes a Big Difference for STEM Students

In a small corner on the third floor of Magruder Hall, you might hear laughter, the low hum of chatter or maybe the silence of studying. There sits the STEM Talent Expansion Programs Office. In this office you’ll find STEP scholars and Missouri Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation students.

The STEP office supports students majoring in a science or mathematics program. There are 20 students in MoLSAMP and 24 in STEP.

STEP Director Barbara Kramer said the office started in 2005 and is almost exclusively funded by National Science Foundation grants. She said the office currently has two active NSF grants.

“NSF scholarships in STEM support students who have high academic talent in the sciences but have financial need,” Kramer said. “We also have the MoLSAMP program which aims at increasing graduation rates for students from traditionally underrepresented groups in the sciences.”

The MoLSAMP program specifically looks at African-American, Latinx, Native American, Native Pacific Islander and Native Alaskan students, while the STEP program focuses on students who have financial need.

There are two academic advisers in the office, one for each program.

MoLSAMP academic adviser Ryan Miller said while STEP and MoLSAMP both serve science majors, MoLSAMP also serves students in mathematics, statistics and computer science.

“The MoLSAMP program only serves underrepresented minority students,” Miller said. “While they may come from rural or low income backgrounds, they have to fit into certain classifications that the National Science Foundation has identified to categorize them as underrepresented.”

Although women are nationally underrepresented in STEM, Miller explained, the grants that fund STEP and MoLSAMP do not include “female” as a qualification for acceptance, however, the majority of students who participate in MoLSAMP are women.

The MoLSAMP program does not offer scholarships, but program affiliates are currently looking for external funders to offer scholarships or stipends in the future. Miller said that is in the very early stages of discussion with Truman’s Office of Advancement.

“We do have very amazing opportunities during the summer for our students, which I like to tell them is very much like a scholarship,” Miller included.

For more, pick up a copy of The Index on Thursday, Sept. 27.