May 11, 2006

Faculty member wins grant for mentoring program

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A grant is allowing a Southern Illinois University Carbondale professor to provide guidance to local minority students.

Cynthia H. Sims, assistant professor in the workforce education and development department, part of the College of Education and Human Services, is the recipient of a $4,000 State Farm Faculty Fellowship. The Illinois Campus Compact, a coalition of colleges and universities committed to increasing campus-wide participation in community and public service, administers the fellowships.

State Farm Faculty Fellow Grants are professional development grants for faculty to collaborate with area P-12 schools to integrate community engagement into their teaching, research and professional service.

Sims will use the money to fund a program she started called, "Enhancing Minority Students' College and Career Preparation."

"I'd like to see more minority students in colleges and universities," she said. "There is a big gap between white and minority students and there are stereotypes about minorities in education and I want to dispel those stereotypes."

Starting in June, Sims will team up five of her graduate students with 10 minority students from Carbondale Community High School.

"My graduate workforce education and development students will be mentoring minority students at the high school on college readiness and career preparedness," Sims said. "I want to help students start at an earlier age preparing for college and the real world."

The high school students will also go on field trips to visit historically black colleges and institutions with significant Hispanic enrollments. In addition, the group will perform service projects in Southern Illinois.

Sims hopes to expand the program to include more minority students from across Southern Illinois. To that end, the SIUC professor applied for a large federal grant to fund the project.

Serving others and providing a progressive graduate and professional education are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019