Section: News

After a decade, changes to KEEP program

After a decade, changes to KEEP program

Ten years after the Kenyon Education Enrichment Program’s (KEEP) inception, it is undergoing substantial changes meant to broaden the application pool and attract more underrepresented students to Kenyon.

KEEP, founded in 2007 and directed by Associate Professor of Chemistry Simon Garcia and Associate Provost Ivonne García, is a selective and academically-rigorous opportunity for first generation students and minority students of color. The 24 KEEP scholars arriving on campus this summer will be joined by 12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) scholars, who are funded by a new S-STEM grant of $999,195 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) intended to create opportunities for low-income students in the sciences.

KEEP begins with an intensive academic summer session before the start of students’ first year at Kenyon and continues throughout their time on campus with opportunities for advising and mentorship. The two programs will unite for summer classes before going their separate ways in the fall. Both groups will take a writing course, but while KEEP scholars will take a data analysis course, STEM scholars will take a separate course that consists of modules and workshops in chemistry, biology and neuroscience.  The directors have adjusted the KEEP program to maintain parity between the programs. Because STEM scholars are selected from among students who receive loan and work-study forgiveness — which means they no longer have to pay those portions of their financial aid packages — the College has committed to do the same for all KEEP scholars. Past students were invited to apply to KEEP only after they were accepted to Kenyon. This year, interested students applied to the KEEP or STEM scholarships when they applied to the College, and their acceptance packages to the College will include their scholarships, with loan and work study forgiveness for all students.

The admissions staff has partnered with the KEEP and STEM faculty to review applications of students who applied for those scholarships. “This is part of the College’s commitment to enroll more first generation or low-income students,” Vice President of Enrollment Management and Dean of Admissions Diane Anci said. Anci estimated she received just over 50 applications to the STEM program and a slightly smaller pool for KEEP.

Other changes to next year’s KEEP include shortening the summer program from six to five-and-a-half weeks to accommodate students from large school districts whose academic calendars end after the start of the program. The KEEP students are also guaranteed to receive regular academic advisors who are one of the 12 KEEP instructors. The STEM program, led by Associate Professor of Biology Karen Hicks, is also intended to attract underrepresented students to campus. STEM scholars will receive specialized advising in the sciences and will have access to funds for unpaid internships. The College ran a similar program after receiving a NSF grant in 2011, but this time, Kenyon plans to continue the program even when grant funds run out; Anci did not specify how.

KEEP scholars graduate from Kenyon at a higher rate than the average Kenyon student, according to the College’s 2014 Institutional Research report. The last time the College ran the STEM program, 23 of the 24 participants graduated from Kenyon. (The other participant transferred.) Of the 23 who remained, 21 graduated with a major in a STEM discipline.

“It introduced me to what science was like at Kenyon,” Jonathan Amador ’15, who participated in the STEM program beginning in 2011, said. Amador majored in physics and has worked for Bridgestone Golf, handling the robot testing of golf balls and overseeing a 3,000,000 data-point database for golf swings.

Ivonne García hopes to grow these enrichment programs even further. She wants KEEP to eventually serve 10 percent of the student population. “That would be quite an accomplishment,” she said.


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