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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

SPELMAN COLLEGE, A NATIONAL LEADER IN THE ORIGIN OF BACCALAUREATE DEGREE GRADUATES WHO EARN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHEMATICS (STEM) GRADUATE DEGREES

Abstract

Contributions of people of color to science have occurred throughout millennia, albeit not as well noted and documented in the annuals of science. Edward Bouchet was the first African American to earn a doctorate degree at a college in the United States. He was awarded the Ph.D. degree in physics in 1876. It was not until the mid-twentieth century that an African American woman earned a doctorate degree in a STEM field. From the foundation established by early pioneering African American men who earned doctorates in STEM and several pioneering women who broke gender and racial barriers in earning STEM doctorates, in the 1970s, Spelman College initialed programs to increase the number of STEM graduates at the College. The early pioneer’s struggles and perseverance throughout history laid the foundation for Spelman College’s success. Founded in 1881 as Atlanta Baptist Female Seminary, Spelman College is nationally recognized as a leader in the preparation of women for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In 1996 Spelman College and five other minority serving institutions, Bowie State University (MD), Oglala Lakota College (SD), Universidad Metropolitana (PR), University of Texas at El Paso (TX) and Xavier University (LA)) were designated as Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This designation provided eleven years of funded support by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Spelman’s STEM programs. The MIE program and other funded programs and the Spelman Administration were instrumental in launching Spelman College through the latter 20th Century and into the 21st Century as a leader in preparing successful STEM undergraduates. Spelman College continues to be a leader in STEM baccalaureate graduates and it has established a history and pathway for the success of next generations of African American women scientists.

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