The transition from high school to university can be difficult in many ways. For STEM majors, performance in first-year science and math courses can make or break career plans.
Several years ago, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics implemented the Summer Bridge Program to better prepare students for the first semester of calculus, physics, biology and chemistry.
This year, Halliburton donated $28,000 to fund the Summer Bridge chemistry curriculum. As part of the program, Halliburton scientists, Loan Vo and Tatyana Khamatnurova, met with the students and participated as guest lecturers.
“This program eases the transition from high school to college and makes the success rate for these kids much higher,” Khamatnurova said. “The students were very driven and had good self-awareness of why they were in college and what they wanted to gain from the college experience.”
Khamatnurova and Vo lectured on separate days and also had the opportunity to have lunch with a small group of Summer Bridge students and Roman Czernuszewicz, the UH associate professor of chemistry who taught during Summer Bridge. In addition to learning about chemical bonding as it relates to fracking, students were able to learn about how various STEM degree plans fit into the business of Halliburton.
“Meeting the Halliburton scientists put into perspective how much I can do with the degree I hope to obtain,” said Jessica Williams, a chemistry major. “I also learned how valuable it is to talk with people already in their careers and to learn from their experiences.”
The Halliburton presentations helped the students make a better connection between their chemistry curriculum and its real-world applications.
The students also made a lasting impression on Vo and Khamatnurova. “I would love to participate in this program again,” Khamatnurova said. “UH is shaping the future of these students and letting them dream big.”
The nine-week program ran from June through early August with 30 students enrolled. The students eagerly gave up their last summer before starting at UH to spend Monday through Friday getting introduced to the coursework they would be taking in the fall.
“The program draws participation from across the STEM fields. This summer, 70 percent of the students were NSM majors; the rest were engineering or technology majors,” said John Hardy, NSM’s associate dean for student success.
Kathy Major, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics