Beth Fertig is WNYC’s Contributing Editor for Education. She previously covered politics, which included City Hall during the Giuliani administration, and the U.S. Senate campaigns of Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton. She also covered transportation and infrastructure.
Changing the Face of Astronomy
Wednesday, April 02, 2014 - 04:00 AM
Even though the country's most famous astronomer, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is African-American, only 2 percent of all U.S. students earning doctorate degrees in astronomy and physics were black or Hispanic in the years 2000-11.
In response, the City University of New York launched a program to get more under-represented minorities into astronomy by paying their way through college, and one-on-one mentoring.
In the last two years the small AstroCom NYC program accepted eight students. For Ariel Diaz and his classmates it has been a game changer, enabling them to afford college while providing real hands-on research. Diaz, 27, grew up on the Lower East Side. He served as a Marine before enrolling at the Borough of Manhattan Community College three years ago. He said he still can't believe he'll have a research job this summer.
"And they're paying us," he said. "That's unheard of, to me where I'm coming from."
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