The Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP), a New York State initiative designed to increase the number of students from under-represented groups pursuing careers in mathematics, science, technology and health-related fields, is expanding at SUNY Optometry thanks to a renewal of the program grant through 2020.
The grant, which will provide over $575,000 in support for the College’s CSTEP programs, is expected to serve about 300 students over the course of the five-year grant, approximately 60 each year.
“This was a competitive process and we’re thrilled to have had our CSTEP grant renewed for another five years,” Mr. Francisco Lucio, director of career development and minority enrichment at the College said. “The program has been very successful for us and we’re excited to be able to expand our offerings as a result of this grant renewal.”
SUNY Optometry offers two internship programs for undergraduate CSTEP students each year, one in the spring and one in the winter. Under the new grant, those internship programs will expand from 12 to 15 students each. In 2012, the College also began offering an eight-week, credit-bearing optometry course each summer called “Introduction to Vision and Optometry” at no cost to participants. This course, which is considered to be a pre-first year optometry preparation course taught by SUNY Optometry faculty, will expand to 30 students from 24.
The new CSTEP grant will also allow the College to offer a new “Optometry Summit” program. This half-day event will be designed to give CSTEP students the latest information on preparing for the Optometry Admissions Test, as well as other admissions insights and optometry career outlook information.
The program has proven successful. The College admitted six former CSTEP students into its Class of 2018 OD program, an increase of 100% over the previous three years.
“CSTEP has allowed SUNY Optometry to expose so many students to the optometric field who may not have otherwise known much about it,” Mr. Lucio said. “And it’s so gratifying to see that many of these students are now going on to enter optometry school.”
SUNY Optometry is one of only 44 New York State institutions of higher education that offers CSTEP programs.