Renetta Tull, the Graduate School: Seeking Equity in STEM

Renetta Tull, Associate Vice Provost of Graduate Student Development and Postdoctoral Affairs, is seeking equity in STEM for all.

Tull was recently the lead author on an article for peerReview titled, “The Jessica Effect: Valuing Cultural and Familial Connections to Broaden Success in Academe.” The article begins:

Jessica Soto-Pérez, daughter of Antonio Israel Soto and Luz N. Pérez, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez. She was a promising chemical engineering graduate student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and peer mentor for its National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program—PROMISE: Maryland’s AGEP.

Jessica’s future plans included returning to her native Puerto Rico to pursue a career as an engineering professor. Unfortunately, she didn’t reach that goal because in 2004, she was tragically killed by her husband.

Renetta Tull

Tull makes the argument that institutions need to “definitively invite and actively include the family members and friends of graduate students in informative and celebratory events and programs.” She writes:

This practice of “family and friend” inclusion is the legacy of Jessica. It ultimately achieves several purposes including, but not limited to (1) serving as an advising model that faculty and administrators can utilize to both recognize and value the cultural and familial connections of their graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and colleagues in the STEM disciplines, (2) promoting an understanding of the university experience among those who may not be familiar with academic processes and timelines, (3) reducing feelings of isolation on the part of students and family members, and (4) expanding the opportunities for family members to offer their students the support necessary for degree completion.

Tull is now heading to the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. to participate in “A New America: Empowering Hispanic Millennials for Tech Leadership,” organized by the National Journal and The Atlantic.

Tull will discuss how we can reverse the trend of Hispanic underrepresentation in STEM professions and better prepare Hispanic students for high tech careers. Other event participants include U.S. Representative Tony Cárdenas; Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council for the White House; Rafael Bras, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology; Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics; and Deborah Santiago, Co-Founder, COO and Vice President for Policy of Excelencia in Education.

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