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Media Contacts:
Anna Turnage, College of Education, 919/755-1677
Dr. Sarah Berenson, 919/515-6919

Oct. 9, 2003

Program Introduces Math, Science Careers to Underrepresented Youth

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

When she was a sixth-grader at Carnage Middle School in Raleigh, Tammy Clegg would look into the future and see a murky picture. That was before she entered the NC State College of Education’s Pre-College Program.

Since then, Clegg has graduated with a computer science degree from NC State and is now pursuing her Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing.

“Now that I am older, I see the true importance of the Pre-College Program and the opportunities that it provided me as far as math and science enrichment,” she says. “The program showed me the many opportunities math and science careers have to offer. I was exposed to role models who showed me that these careers were attainable, and provided me with help whenever I needed it.”

Clegg is one of thousands of people who have become successful because of the Pre-College program since its inception 17 years ago, says Dr. Sarah Berenson, director of the College of Education’s Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Education, which sponsors the program.

The Pre-College program enrolls 450 middle grades and high school students in year-round math and science enrichment activities. The mission is to keep underrepresented students on a college-bound track leading to science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. NC State’s College of Education is one of six universities in the state to offer the program.

“The program started in the mid-1980s when government and education officials started to realize that there were certain groups that were underrepresented in math, science and computer fields,” Berenson says. “This program directly addresses that issue by giving the underrepresented groups an opportunity to excel in these areas.”

At NC State, more than 97 percent of the students participating in the program go on to college and 70 percent of those major in math, science or related fields.

“We’re building a community of professionals,” Berenson says. “These kids go through this program and come back as doctors, lawyers, teachers, IT professionals and more. This program stays with them throughout their lives.”

Clegg can attest to that. She is in the process of applying for an NSF Grant to design mathematics software that targets underrepresented groups in math and science. She plans to mention the Pre-College Program in her proposal to explain how she became interested in the topic.

“I don't think I would be doing this without the Pre-College Program,” she said. “It was through the program that I gained the confidence in math that allowed me to make it this far.”

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