The Science Education & Mentorship In Latino Lives in Academia (SEMILLA) Project is a five-year, $5.7 million grant focused on keeping Latinx and low-income students on the path toward graduating with science and engineering degrees.

Abstract  |  Summary Year 6  |  SEMILLA Teach (2019 - 2021)  |  SEMILLA Remote Learning (2020 - 2021)

UC Santa Cruz's SEMILLA Project (Science Education & Mentorship In Latinx Lives in Academia) interrupts STEM attrition patterns, including students' under preparation for STEM degrees and UCSC's under-preparation to serve Latinx and low-income STEM students. SEMILLA cultivates equity-minded reforms to challenge and overcome institutional barriers so that STEM-intended Latinx and low-income students increase their rates of STEM transfer, persistence, and degree attainment. The SEMILLA project also serves as a focal point and catalyst for a comprehensive set of interventions guided through an analysis of student outcomes and inquiry teams to address barriers both in and outside the classroom.

The UCSC SEMILLA Project Budget is $5.7 million from October 2016 - September 2021.

Grant Initiatives

SEMILLA helps Latinx students pursuing STEM degrees and instructors clear barriers to success inside and outside the classroom. Programs and activities increase support in the following seven areas: 

  1. MATH - The College Math Academy offers math seminars within a high-support college-based learning community with undergraduate co-leaders and small group tutoring. 
  2. WRITING - SEMILLA expands on and supplements existing STEM programs in the areas of scientific writing and literature. Writing support with internship applications, graduate school applications, and student-led workshops are also included.
  3. SENSE OF BELONGING - SEMILLA builds and expands upon UCSC’s existing programs that help students adjust to the new academic environment, including Science and Math Academy, Engineering Summer Bridge Academy, Academic Excellence Program (ACE), MESA/Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP), and Modified Supplemental Instruction (MSI). 
  4. ADVISING - The holistic STEM Counseling/Early Alert facilitates EOP Counselors to partner with STEM faculty to uncover potential student barriers and connect students with resources to overcome challenges.
  5. CAREER DEVELOPMENT - SEMILLA provides STEM career development opportunities and mentoring, including a course where students explore multiple career and research pathways. Students also learn resume writing and interviewing techniques.
  6. TRANSFER - The EOP STEM Transfer program teaches students about STEM majors and resources at UCSC. Students build community, engage in STEM-related activities, and participate in special lectures and graduate student research projects. 
  7. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT - SEMILLA provides several professional development opportunities for faculty and TA’s, including the chance to:
    • examine achievement gaps in light of race/ethnicity, gender, and income to shift policy;
    • address classroom equity challenges though instructional support aimed at shaping course design; and
    • earn a TA Training Certificate focused on collaborative and active learning, cultural competency, teaching for equity, and mentoring STEM students. 

Anticipated Impact

Specific grant outcomes for student advancement as part of the SEMILLA project include:

  • Reduce attrition of STEM-intended Latinx and low-income students at the major declaration milestone by 20% over baseline.
  • Increase the number of Latinx and low-income STEM students who graduate in 6-years to 587 students (a 10% increase from current rates).
  • Increase the number of Latinx and low-income STEM transfer students from partner community colleges by 20%
  • Increase the 3-year graduation rate for Latinx and low-income students from community college partners in STEM majors by 20%