An Intersectional Analysis of U.S. African American Students in STEM: The Impact of Race, Gender, and Socioeconomic Status on Underrepresented STEM Majors at Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs)

Fred A. Bonner II; George C. Wright; Stella L. Smith; Kamala V. Williams; Valerie Ellison Wright; W. Delores Robinson

Minority Achievement, Creativity and High Ability Center (MACH-III); Prairie View A&M University

The past decades have ushered in increased funding and a national focus on the STEM educational pipeline; however, the number of U.S. low-income and minority students who successfully matriculate in STEM programs remains low (Toven-Lindsey, et al., 2015). If advancing the participation of minorities in STEM is a national and international priority, multiple and interlocking factors leading to underrepresentation must become critical foci for analysis. To compete internationally and prepare for a highly advanced global society, greater efforts should be made to increase the number of African American students who successfully matriculate through college STEM programs.
This presentation will highlight the findings of an investigation to illuminate the challenges faced by African American college students in STEM through the lens of intersectionality.  By applying an intersectional lens, the extant research on race, gender, and socioeconomic status will be used to reveal the impact that these statuses have on the matriculation of African American college students in STEM disciplines at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The Minority Achievement, Creativity, and High Ability (MACH-III) Center: Researching the Status of Minority Populations across the P-20 Education Spectrum in the U.S.

Fred A. Bonner II; Stella L. Smith; Kamala V. Williams

Minority Achievement, Creativity and High Ability Center (MACH-III), Prairie View A&M University

Under the direction of Dr. Fred A. Bonner II, professor and endowed chair at Prairie View A&M University, the mission of the Minority Achievement, Creativity, and High-Ability (MACH-III) Center is to produce cutting-edge best-practices and scholarship that will speak to the contemporary issues impacting our target populations across the P-20 spectrum and beyond into critical workplace contexts. The tripartite focus of the MACH-III Center among critical populations is administration, faculty, and students.  The Center serves as a crucible that will facilitate the combinations of key elements from multiple disciplines and fields.  The contributions of the MACH-III Center to the knowledge base will be operationalized primarily through six strategic foci that are referred to as vectors.  This presentation will provide an overview of the Minority Achievement, Creativity, and High-Ability Center (MACH-III) Center, our unique positionality within the U.S. educational context, and our six strategic areas of research focus.

Short Biographies:

Fred Bonner II, Ph.D.

Fred Bonner II in ICIE Conference

Dr. Fred Bonner II is Professor and Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership and Counseling at Prairie View A&M University. He is formerly the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University and an esteemed expert in the field of diversity in education. Prior to joining Rutgers, he was Professor of Higher Education Administration and Dean of Faculties at Texas A&M University-College Station. He earned a B.A. in chemistry from the University of North Texas, an M.S. Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Baylor University, and an Ed.D. in higher education administration & college teaching from the University of Arkansas.  Bonner has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Association for Higher Education Black Caucus Dissertation Award and the Educational Leadership, Counseling and Foundation's Dissertation of the Year Award from the University of Arkansas College of Education.  His work has been featured nationally and internationally. He is the author of the recently released book Building on Resilience: Models and Frameworks of Black Male Success Across the P-20 Pipeline.
George C. Wright, Ph.D.
George C. Wright in ICIE Conference
Dr. George C. Wright has served as President of Prairie View A&M University, the second oldest public institution of higher education in Texas (founded in 1876), since August 15, 2003.  A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Wright received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Kentucky (UK) in 1972, his master’s degree in history from UK in 1974, and his Ph.D. in history from Duke University in 1977.  In 2004, Dr. Wright was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Kentucky. Wright’s teaching experiences begin in 1997 as an assistant professor of history at the University of Kentucky.  In 1980, he started teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, where he eventually became a full professor and the holder of the Mastin Gentry White Professorship of Southern History.  For 12 consecutive years at UT, Wright was voted one of the 10 “Best Faculty” on the annual list of”10 Best and 10 Worst Faculty” of the entire 3,000 faculty at the University.  He received the Jean Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, and the top teaching award for the entire University, the Lillian and Tom B. Rhodes Centennial Teaching Fellow, which carried a $10,000 prize.  In 1993, Wright joined the faculty at Duke University as vice provost for undergraduate programs, director of the Afro-American Studies, and held the William R. Kenan, Jr., Chair in American history.  From 1996-2003, Wright served as Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Texas at Arlington. Wright has authored three books on race relations.  For his scholarly activities, Wright received the University of Kentucky Libraries “Award for Intellectual Achievement,” in 2015. During his 13 year-tenure, Dr. Wright has also emphasized reading as a fundamental learning tool and has issued two volumes of his comprehensive President’s Recommended Reading List containing books Dr. Wright considers prudent for every life-long learner to read.


Stella L. Smith, Ph.D.

Stella Smith in ICIE Conference

Stella L. Smith is the Associate Director for the Minority Achievement, Creativity and High-Ability Center in the Whitlowe R. Green College of Education Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling at Prairie View A&M University.  In this role, Dr. Smith provides strategic leadership and oversight of the MACH-III Center operations including financial, programmatic, research and assessment activities. Dr. Smith previously served as the Associate Director for the Longhorn Link Program, a federally funding TRIO student support program in the Longhorn Center for Academic Excellence (LCAE) in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. In this role, she served as an advisor for Longhorn Link students; assisted with course design for UGS 303 Race in the Age of Obama course; served as a staff program assistant for the 2017 Beijing, China Maymester; and supported several other special projects in LCAE. Dr. Smith earned her Ph.D. in Educational Administration with a portfolio in Women and Gender Studies from The University of Texas at Austin. Recognized with a 2014 Dissertation Award from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education, her dissertation study was a phenomenological inquiry to investigate the experiences, challenges and strategies for success of African American females in senior-level executive positions in higher at predominately white institutions. A qualitative researcher, her scholarly interests focus on several areas including the experiences of faculty and administrators of color in higher education; African American females in leadership in higher education; access and inclusion of underserved populations in higher education, and P–20 educational pipeline alignment. An experienced higher education administrator, prior to this position Dr. Smith served as the Executive Director for Administrative Services where she oversaw the development, implementation and management of administrative services (financial processing and human resource management) for more than 200 employees in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.


Kamala V. Williams, Ph.D.

Kamala Williams in ICIE Conference

Dr. Kamala V. Williams is the Editorial & Creative Services Specialist for the MACH-III Center, Whitlowe R. Green College of Education, Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, Prairie View A&M University, Prairie View, Texas. She is an adjunct professor and member of the graduate faculty at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Dr. Williams also serves as the Managing Editor of the National Journal of Urban Education and Practice. The former Coordinator for the Center for Urban School Partnerships, a center that focuses on school and community partnerships, Dr. Williams conducted numerous professional development sessions with teachers across Texas. She has also spearheaded teacher induction and teacher mentoring programs for the center. Dr. Williams coordinated the Student Teaching in Urban Schools Program for clinical teachers interested in teaching in urban schools. She also coordinated and recruited for two of the Department of Learning’s online master program options, urban education and elementary STEM programs. For three years she was Administrative Coordinator for the Governor’s School in Arts and Humanities for Urban Leadership at Texas A&M University, funded by a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The three-week residential summer program for high school juniors and seniors served 100 students from across Texas each summer. Her research centers on urban education and she maintains a key focus on issues affecting marginalized populations. She has participated in two study abroad programs for graduate students traveling to South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Italy, Spain and Portugal.  She has presented at both national and international conferences. She has several publications: peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters,  and is co-author of a professional development manual used for professional development in several urban school districts.
Valerie Wright
 Valerie Wright in ICIE conferenceValerie Wright is a native of Lexington, Kentucky.  She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky and began a career in journalism following graduation.  Her first reporting job was with the Louisville (Ky.) Times newspaper (now Louisville Courier Journal) where she specialized in community coverage.  With a move to Durham, North Carolina, she became a reporter for the Durham Sun (now Durham Herald-Sun) newspaper.  Her first reporting assignment with the newspaper was coverage of tobacco sales in the Bull Durham city.  Her later reporting assignments included Durham city and county governments and Duke University.  Upon moving back to Lexington, Kentucky, she covered Lexington-Fayette County public schools and the Fayette County court system for the Lexington Leader (now Lexington Herald-Leader).  A move to Texas resulted in a copy editing job at the Austin American Statesman newspaper, public information officer for the Texas Education Agency and finally, an editor at Texas Monthly magazine beginning in 1986 and ending with retirement in 2016.
W. Delores Robinson

Deloris Robinson at ICIE Conference

Delores Robinson earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree with honors in Elementary Education from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas within three years of enrollment.  While working full time and raising a young family, her passion for learning led her to obtaining an endorsement in middle school Mathematics, as well as a Master of Arts degree in Reading from Northeastern Illinois University, and a second Master of Arts degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Roosevelt University.  

Upon graduation, Ms. Delores Allen was employed by Chicago Public Schools in 1969 and assigned to the North Lawndale Community.   For a year and half she was a teacher at Cole child-parent center located on Sumner’s campus.  She became a faculty member at Charles Sumner Elementary School after her position was closed at Cole.  The first twenty years of her career, Mrs. Robinson was an elementary and middle school classroom teacher who taught over 800 plus students.  Mrs. Robinson’s latter 26 years were served as an administrator leading and impacting approximately 4,000 students at the same school.

During her 47 years of tenure, she has been recognized and honored for her mentorship, leadership, outstanding  performance and achievements by students, parents, peers, colleagues, CEO’s and Mayors of Chicago.  Sumner Math and Science Academy consistently remains a top performing neighborhood school serving a predominantly minority and low- income student population.   Furthermore, upon President Obama’s first term she was invited to Washington D.C. to sit on an esteemed panel at the Department of Education to provide her expertise for improving education in under privilege communities.  Most recently, she was honored by Commissioner Steele and President Preckwinkle for her outstanding leadership and service to the Chicago Public Schools.

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