The Department of Sociology’s Breauna Spencer has recently been awarded a UC Mexus small grant for her project studying the underrepresentation of minority men in certain areas of academia. Specifically, she will examine the lack of black and Latino men in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) doctoral programs.

She states that the purpose of her study to is to analyze the educational trajectories of these demographics, including the challenges they may encounter in the academic world. By using both interviews and statistical analysis of data from the National Center of Educational Statistics (NCES), Spencer hopes to discover what factors both hinder and encourage academic success in black and Latino mean in STEM programs, as well as how current students are faring in these programs.

Spencer completed her undergraduate degree at UCI before returning to the university for her graduate program. She first became interested in the educational experiences of minority students during her undergraduate career while participating in UCI’s sociology department honors program. For her honor’s thesis, she conducted research that explored the experiences of African-American and Asian-American women in STEM degree programs. This led to her current research interests, which include the underrepresentation of minority students in higher education, specifically in the science and math fields. She hopes that her research will help such programs develop effective strategies to recruit, retain and graduate more students of color.

Once she has completed her graduate program, Spencer hopes to become a professor and higher education consultant. Her project received a total of $1,259.75 in funding from UC Mexus, with a project period from Aug. 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018.

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