The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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College Hosts Springfield 11th-Graders

On November 5, the Diversity Programs Office and Engineering Students Reaching Out hosted 37 11th-graders from the Horace Mann New Leadership Charter School in Springfield. The Springfield students visited campus to learn more about the university, the College of Engineering, and the various programs in the college. Shelly Perdomo, the director of the Diversity Programs Office, gave the welcoming orientation speech, and then undergraduates from the campus chapters of the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers ran interactive activities, which involved extracting DNA from strawberries and humans.

The visitors from the charter school of nearly 500 students in grades six to 12 were all members of an after-school program, which is run by the Springfield Urban League to prepare them for college. The program teaches the students essay writing, the college application process, and applying for financial aid, as well as focusing on science, engineering, and mathematics.

“I found these students especially bright and curious, judging by their questions,” said Perdomo. “They already have an interest in science and engineering, and many of them had already gone on the college website to look at the departments and the application process.”

The students later spent an hour in the Human Performance Laboratory, where they took turns in the test car doing driving simulations. In addition, Radhameris Gomez, a graduate student in transportation engineering, gave them a presentation on the importance of traffic control.

“We also took them to lunch at Worcester Dining Commons,” said Perdomo. “They actually went wild, saying, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s buffet style, and I can eat all the waffles and ice cream and everything else as I want.’”

As one of the 11th-graders aptly summed up the visit, “I loved it!” (November 2010)