Supporters of CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program) are taking part in an advocacy day on Feb. 13, 2024, to request the state to increase investment in this valuable program.

CSTEP is in the middle of a relaunched a five-year cycle through 2025 on the Oswego campus, and includes around 120 students in the program that helps underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students thrive in STEM or professional licensure fields.

An annual grant of nearly $200,000 supports a range of student benefits including a supportive community, mentoring, research experience, tutoring, connections with professional and graduate opportunities, help with graduate entrance exams and more.

Given the impact of the program, CSTEP participants throughout the state are sharing their stories on social media and meeting with legislators to ask for additional funding so they can provide access to more students. 

Since its foundation in 1986, CSTEP has graduated more than 34,000 students. Most of those alumni continue to live in New York state in high-paying STEM, health and licensed fields, showing the investment is worth it, advocates said.

Supporting success

The return of the program supports numerous student success stories, as participants appreciate the impact the program has on their time as a student as well as in the future. 

Ethann Browne, a freshman electrical and computer engineering (ECE) major, reports thriving with the help of the program.

"I am so glad I made this choice," Browne said. "Faculty, professors, advisors and students are all wonderful here. There are so many helpful people here, including the CSTEP staff."

Browne noted that many CSTEP students refer to Christina Vasquez, director of Oswego's CSTEP, as their "school mom."

"If you need something, anything, she's the one you ask," Browne said. "If she doesn't know the answer, she'll be able to find and provide it in a timely manner."

Biochemistry major Ricki-lee Riley said CSTEP is a great to way gain access to tools that will support a successful academic journey and career path.

"In this program, I have access to all types of internships that can be very beneficial to me in areas like seeing what a hospital is like day-to-day, and making my resume more appealing when applying to medical school," Riley said. "I have access to tutoring for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), a test I will be taking in the near future. I also have people who are not only supportive but also help me find the information and/or resources that I need in order to succeed." 

Psychology major Starr Sanders appreciates the opportunity to earn volunteer experience and expand knowledge from being in CSTEP. The program also supports Sanders' future plans.

"I plan on continuing my graduate degree here so I can pursue mental health counseling," Sanders said.

For Riley, CSTEP is part of the recipe for supporting a long-time dream.

"After college, I want to go to medical school," Riley said, and while one hasn't been selected yet, CSTEP has provided the confidence it can happen. "I want to go medical because I want to become a cardiologist. This has been my career goal for the longest time."

CSTEP supports big plans for Browne as well.

"I want to work as an electrical engineer," Browne said. "I will likely pursue a master's in ECE, and possibly an MBA to go into management at some point in my career."

For more information on opportunities available through CSTEP at SUNY Oswego, visit the college’s CSTEP website or email

-- Digital storytelling intern Alyx Sperling of the Class of 2024 contributed to this story.