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Role Models and Encouragement

Beverly Daniel Tatum, the president of Spelman College in Atlanta, was one of the winners of the Carnegie Corporation's 2013 Academic Leadership Award, in part for her work encouraging her students to pursue degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Carnegie notes that between 1997 and 2006, Spelman, a historically black liberal arts college for women, "prepared more African American women to earn PhDs in STEM than Georgia Tech, Duke, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."

Tatum tells PBS NewsHour that about a third of Spelman students come in with an interest in STEM subjects, and at the school, they are exposed to range of role models. Tatum notes that more than half of the STEM faculty are women and a third are women of color.

"A lot of students come in saying they want to graduate in STEM, but they don't necessarily do that. They get discouraged along the way," Tatum says. "And at Spelman, we see that there is a higher rate of persistence."

She notes that the school also has a number of volunteer opportunities in the sciences, teaching local middle or high school students about science.