Check us out!

November 4, 2014 - Charles Reuben

We're featured on the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) website!
Check it out: 


STEM students were recently sent on a Scavenger Hunt by the "S-Cubed" group to take "selfies" in front of the iconic UNM landmarks shown above.

UNM STEM Gateway Targets ECE Students

It’s not easy being a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) student: The coursework is difficult and the students often feel it is a competition, rather than a network of support.

STEM2It’s even tougher being a STEM student when he or she comes from one of the 43% of the families in New Mexico who live in poverty.  Or, for those who didn’t get a proper education before they entered UNM.

Regardless of a student’s past or current situation, it is difficult to adjust to the demands of college, especially within the STEM fields. They often feel unprepared to meet demands of college life. Fortunately, there is hope for STEM students in all stages of their college careers, even if they are struggling financially or academically: The STEM Gateway Program at UNM.

Dr. Yadéeh E. Sawyer is a program specialist at UNM's STEM Gateway Program and she has made her presence felt at ECE lately, even though she is not part of the School of Engineering.Yadeeh

ECE students, faculty and staff regularly receive personal invitations, slick flyers, and fancy posters from Sawyer. She reaches out and encourages ECE members, ranging from pre-majors through faculty and staff, to attend free workshops, activities, and programs. Working from an austere, cramped cubical in the College Enrichment and Outreach Programs (CEOP) near Career Services, she is part of a team that is making things better for all STEM students.

“We aim to serve all UNM STEM students, but focus especially on Hispanic, low-income, and/or first generation students,” said Sawyer during a recent interview. “STEM Gateway Activities are designed to help new STEM students transition successfully into the academic disciplines. But all students are welcome to participate in all STEM Gateway events and services, regardless of major or economic status.”

Sawyer said that the reason her group targets “Hispanic, low-income, and/or first generation students” is because the data shows that these groups have lower retention rates, especially within the STEM fields. She said that a “first generation student” is one who’s parents have not attended college — they are the first generation in their family line to pursue a college degree.

“Any and all students are welcome, encouraged to join, and will fit in, regardless of their background or current academic focus,” Sawyer said. “A lot of our events are geared towards life skills and applicable to any student.”

Sawyer glowed when she began talking about the activities that bring STEM students together.

STEM1“We know that it can be tough for STEM students to build a community, but students are each other's best support system: We want them to be able to connect with each other, as well as faculty and staff mentors. These networks can provide a sense of belonging, mental stimulation, as well as potential job or research opportunities,” she said.

STEM Gateway Activities are designed to help new STEM students transition successfully into the academic disciplines.  The activities that would best apply to ECE students would be the AEON (Achievement, Exploration Opportunities & Networking) Workshops, and S3 (Students for STEM Success) Activities.  Click here for more information.

Additionally, many core STEM classes have Peer Learning Facilitators (PLFs) who are always there for them.

Sawyer can’t help solve every problem that faces a STEM student, but she is eager to point a STEM student in the right direction. They can e-mail her at  or you can leave her a message at 277-2257.

s3“The S-cubed students are shifting to a more student centered group that will have monthly meetings for networking and planning. This is a great way for STEM students to meet and mingle are the various events and workshops that we offer throughout the semester. Her closing remarks, directed at all students even remotely in STEM is “You belong! And remember, you are not alone.”