The mission of the Sampling Advanced Mathematics for Minority Students (SAMMS) Program is to promote graduate mathematics education, and to encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue graduate education in STEM fields. This will be achieved by instilling confidence and raising aspirations so that students begin to consider graduate school as a viable option for their future. Completing the SAMMS Program will reduce anxiety and misconceptions about graduate school by creating positive experiences and “demystifying” research institutions. Participants will receive information and tools that they can use to plan, strategize, and efficiently prepare for a graduate career such as firsthand experience with course work and research.
Novel aspects of the SAMMS Program that will elevate and sharpen student views of graduate careers include its comprehensive design and unique inter-institutional collaboration. Each SAMMS component (research, courses, faculty mentoring, and professional development) will independently raise student aspirations and, together, will provide overall motivation for the program. These components allow students to put the pieces together and appreciate their interdependence, which is necessary for success in STEM-focused graduate education and careers. The collaborating schools complement each other by providing an authentic exposure to a major research and graduate program with all its challenges and opportunities on the Ohio State University side and, on the University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez side, by providing guidance and a reassuring environment with minority TAs, mentors, and teachers serving as role models.
A major barrier for many minority students of entry to advanced academic careers is a lack of familiarity with the process and environment of a graduate education due to cultural, social, and educational backgrounds. The general approach of SAMMS is to present students with an idea or situation that is very new to them in such a way that the novelty is experienced in a context that feels familiar. This will be achieved by exposing students to new mathematical ideas or problems and applications in a framework that is consistent with their current knowledge base. On the cultural side, Hispanic students, for whom English may be a cultural or psychological barrier to success, will be immersed in a program that is taught entirely in English but where their native language, Spanish, is spoken in the background by a majority of the students, teaching assistants (TAs), and instructors. SAMMS will immerse students in an atmosphere of genuine collaboration between Ohio State University faculty, and faculty and TAs from University of Puerto Rico - Mayagüez. We expect the mix of familiar and unfamiliar in both mathematics concepts and cultural environments will help students overcome cultural or psychological barriers to success, allowing them to firmly and confidently step into the previously unfamiliar territory of graduate school in the future.