WMU News

Middle schoolers conduct research in a university setting

June 1, 2004

KALAMAZOO--A group of Kalamazoo middle school students will experience research firsthand this month through a pilot program at Western Michigan University designed to encourage students underrepresented in higher education to obtain a post-secondary degree.

The first year of WMU's Research Scholars Program will kick off with 25 Hillside Middle School students attending a two-week summer research institute. The institute will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, June 14 through 24, on the WMU campus.

The students in this pilot group all have a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or higher and during the institute, will participate in hands-on research projects, college preparation seminars and life-skills workshops.

They will take part in a variety of other activities throughout the 2004-05 academic year, including monthly workshops that address research and college preparation topics. In future years, the University plans to expand the program to include additional area middle school students.

The Research Scholars Program is a new component of WMU's existing Martin Luther King, Jr./Cesar Chavez/Rosa Parks College Day Program, also known as the KCP College Day Program. The college day initiative targets sixth through 12th graders and is administered by the University's Division of Multicultural Affairs.

"We've added the new component to expose underrepresented academically talented students to research and in the process, adequately prepare them for college," says Erika Carr, KCP College Day Program assistant. "By exposing students this young to research and college initiatives, we hope to lead them not only to an undergraduate degree, but also toward a graduate degree."

The Michigan Legislature created the KCP College Day Program in 1986 to help stem the downward spiral of college graduation rates for students underrepresented in higher education. The most critically underrepresented groups at the time were African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. Although the situation has improved, state officials say these groups still have not achieved parity in graduation rates equal to their share of Michigan's population.

For more information, contact Erika Carr at (269) 387-3319 or <erika.carr@wmich.edu>. Information about the statewide KCP Initiative is available online.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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