The Meyerhoff Scholars Program: A Strengths Based Approach

The Meyerhoff Scholars program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County is a strengths-based program that focuses on preparation and retention of underrepresented minority (URM) undergraduates who matriculate from high school with interests in science, engineering and mathematics (SEM).  From its inception in 1988 until the present (2006), the program has supported 768 students, 260 of whom are currently undergraduates. 86% of the Meyerhoff graduates earned SEM bachelor’s degrees, and most of the SEM graduates (87%) went on to graduate or professional programs (41% to Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D., 22% to master’s, 24% to medical or other professional programs). A total of 44 Meherhoff graduates have received Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. degrees (most earned in the past 2 years), 72 have earned master’s degrees, and 32 have obtained medical degrees.

The Meyerhoff program has four overarching objectives: (a) academic and social integration; (b) knowledge and skill development; (c) support and motivation; and (d) monitoring and advising.  To achieve these objectives, five major elements are employed: (i) recruiting a significant pool of high-achieving minority students with interests in math and science who are most likely to be retained in the scientific pipeline; (ii) offering merit-based financial support; (iii) providing an orientation program for incoming freshmen; (iv) recruiting the most active research faculty to work with the students (our philosophy is that it takes a scientist to train a scientist); and (v) involving the students in scientific research projects as early as possible, so that they can engage in the excitement of discovery. Encouraging high academic performance in the first 2 years is critical. Students are encouraged to retake courses in which they earn a C in order to strengthen foundation knowledge before advancing to other courses.
– Michael Summers, Ph.D., University of Maryland-Baltimore County
For further information about the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, see:
Summers, M. F., Hrabowski, F. A. III, “Preparing minority scientists and engineers,” Science 311, 1870-1871 (2006), and references there-in.