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Oklahoma State University

OK-LSAMP gives opportunity to minority STEM students

Thu, April 07, 2016
Noble Research Center

The Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP) brings together Oklahoma colleges and universities to develop programs increasing the number of under-represented populations earning degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

STEM education includes a huge array of degree programs, which could include nutrition all engineering fields, animal science, mathematics, life sciences, and much more. 

Oklahoma State University serves as the lead institution for OK-LSAMP, which includes 10 other Oklahoma higher education institutions.

Kay Porter, program manager, helps recruit and mentor students who are involved in OK-LSAMP at Oklahoma State.

“The LSAMP program which is funded by the National Science Foundation has been in existence in Oklahoma since 1994,” Porter said.  “Oklahoma State serves as the lead institution, which means we write all the research proposals and subcontract out with the other 10 Oklahoma higher education institutions.”

LSAMP works in five-year grant rotations.  These grants go to minority students who are majoring in STEM degree programs and involved in LSAMP.  Dependent upon how much work and research the student does they receive a debt-reducing stipend to go toward student loans and paying off their education.

“The program helps students find summer internships and research opportunities at prestigious intuitions like Harvard, Mayo Clinic and MIT,” Porter said. “Some students are even able to work abroad during their research internship.”

Nick Means, a December 2015 microbiology graduate and past member of OK-LSAMP, had an incredible journey with OK-LSAMP.

“I began the program my junior year,” Means said.  “Kay Porter saw my potential.  When I met her it was late March, so all of the research programs she was telling me about had passed deadline, but Kay refuses to take no for an answer.  We sat down and called so many institutions and I finally ended up on the phone with the University of Georgia and they had just had a student drop out of the program and I was told if I could have all my application materials in my the end of that day, they would consider me for the program.  Having just met, Kay wrote me a letter of recommendation and so did my mentor and I ended up earning a summer research internship at the University of Georgia.”

Means was one of the lucky students who was able to complete a six-month research internship in France and he attributes all of his opportunities to the tireless work of Kay Porter and OK-LSAMP.

“From day one in the program, it has busted open doors for me,” Means said.  “I would not be where I am today without Kay and without LSAMP.  Just a few months after entering the program, Kay introduced me to an opportunity to work abroad in France for 6 months working a paid research internship.”

Since graduation in 2015, Means has been working for the OSU microbiology department as their webmaster in anticipation of joining the OU Health Sciences doctoral program in August 2016.

“It was my two research experiences and the crazy story of how I got involved in OK-LSAMP that made me a stand-out candidate for doctoral program and it was Kay Porter who pushed me to seize all of the opportunities,” Means said.

OK-LSAMP does not just give students opportunities to present research at national conferences and open doors for undergraduate students, but the students involved in the program also give back to their community to spread the excitement for STEM programs.

Porter met with Tulsa educators who were interested in encouraging STEM studies to their junior high and high school students and OK-LSAMP students jumped at the opportunity to give back a little of what OK-LSAMP gave them.

“OK-LSAMP students representing some of the 11 Oklahoma alliances visited with these young students and spent an afternoon with them and talked to them about how they overcame adversity to become successful students in the STEM program,” Porter said.

There is no deadline for minority students to apply for OK-LSAMP, but the sooner they apply, the sooner students can begin reaping the benefits of the program. The program accepts applications for all undergraduate classifications.

For more information contact Kay Porter at kay.porter@oksate.edu or 405-744-6710.

Story by Alex Marianos