The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) had a successful return to campus, recruiting around 110 students to this program, which helps underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged students thrive in STEM or professional licensure fields, and naming Christina Vasquez its new director.

An annual grant of nearly $200,000 through 2025 supports activities to bolster student success in fields that benefit from a well-prepared diverse pool of graduates. The range of benefits include a supportive community, mentoring, research experience, tutoring, connections with professional and graduate opportunities, help with graduate entrance exams and more.

"We are very lucky to have Christina as our new CSTEP director," said Kristin Croyle, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "She has broad experience in higher education in areas that are directly relevant to the program such as recruitment and admissions, advising, teaching, student success, and program design and direction. Plus she is passionate about building programs to support the success of diverse students. Our students and the CSTEP program are in good hands with her!" 

The program reached its initial cap of students through a high level of interest in the program benefits, with inquiries continuing even after filling up.

“That comes from word of mouth from our students talking to their friends about it,” Vasquez said. “I think just getting the program out there has produced a lot of interest from students and faculty.”

After a competitive external search process, Vasquez moves into the leadership role after being part of the relaunch team as a program advisor working in the college’s Advisement Center. That position has helped because it involved a proven ability to work with faculty while supporting students.

“I think advisement is going to be a very important part of the program,” Vasquez said, especially since many students are the first in their family to attend college, which means any support they can receive to navigate some parts of thriving in higher education can be important.

Looking forward

All of the CSTEP seminar courses are developed and filled for the spring semester, which will prepare students to take full advantage of the program.

“This comes at a good time because I think it gives students something to look forward to,” Vasquez said.

“I’ve had a lot of one-on-one meetings with students, especially seniors who are so close to applying for graduate schools,” Vasquez said. “They are interested in signing up for graduate test preparation and other specific things.”

Vasquez said CSTEP is looking to open up more applications in the spring semester. The program also prepares to move into office space in the Office of Learning Services area of Penfield Library, while planning a spring showcase where students can show off their portfolios, internships and other things they have accomplished.

The program also recently launched an Instagram account, @cstep.oz, to keep its students connected and informed, and to make others aware of program benefits.

“Things look good,” Vasquez said. “The students are excited, so we’re excited.”

For more information, visit the CSTEP website.