R. Steve Dick/University Relations
Hong Chuong works closely with students and oversees operations of the Math and Science Center.
CAMPUS CLOSEUPHong Chuong - Project coordinator, Math and Science Center
Years at current job: I have been with the Math and Science Center for a little over six years and have been serving as the project coordinator for more than three years.
Job duties: My responsibilities as the project coordinator entail providing academic and career counseling to the students, organizing and coordinating educational and cultural field trips, recruiting students, conducting educational presentations for students and parents, managing the budget, evaluating programs and services provided to the students and parents and overseeing the daily operations of the Math and Science Center.
Why is it important to expose students to math and science careers? To ensure a pipeline of well-trained scientific and technical workers, it is important to expose students to the multitude of careers in math and science fields in order to spark their interest and keep them interested in pursuing these careers. Furthermore, we hope that the diversity in the Math and Science Center student body will help diversify this country's scientific and technical workforce. This is important because a diverse workforce provides a multitude of perspectives to help solve challenging scientific and technical problems.
What do you like most about your profession? I enjoy working with the students and having the opportunity to inspire, motivate and make a difference in their lives. Former students have contacted me to inform of their progress and have even invited me to their college graduation. Indeed, this profession is very rewarding.
The Bridge Program allows students to take six college credit hours at KU before enrolling in a post-secondary institution. How successful do you think this program is in preparing students for college? I believe the Bridge Program is effective in preparing students for post-secondary education. The program helps students make the transition from high school to college by allowing them to become acclimated to college life prior to the fall semester. The program gives students the opportunity to assess and determine what skills they need to develop further in order to be successful in college before the fall semester begins.
The Math and Science Center hosts a summer program. What takes place at this event? First and foremost, students study math, science, English, a foreign language and take an elective course while living on campus. The opportunity to reside in a residence hall allows students to get a taste of college life. Students also go on educational and cultural trips and visit prospective colleges.
Past excursions that students have gone on include visiting the Brown vs. Board of Education Historical Museum, seeing a musical at the Starlight Theater, ice skating and camping. The summer program also offers career development activities that include job shadowing for students to enhance their knowledge of the assortment of math and science careers. In addition, community service projects are a significant component of the summer program, promoting world citizenship and civic responsibility in our students. A celebratory banquet in which the students' parents are invited to attend is held at the end of the summer program to recognize the achievements of the students.
How did you become interested in working with students, specifically in relation to math and science? After graduating from college, I taught mathematics in a summer program for disadvantaged students. This experience was very rewarding because in addition to teaching, I was also advising students. After the summer program, I began looking for a similar position and eventually landed a position with the Math and Science Center.
What are some aspects of your job others might not realize you're involved with? This past fall, I helped to organize and coordinate a conference for high school students from ten states in the Midwest. This conference congregated approximately 800 high school students from the ten states to develop their leadership skills and encourage them to pursue a college education by attending various workshops, listening to motivational speakers and engaging in science experiments.
In addition, for the past six summers, I have volunteered to conduct hands-on science experiments with disadvantaged middle school students who were participating in the Educational Talent Search's Career Horizon and Discover Technology programs. These week-long programs are designed to motivate students to complete high school and pursue post-secondary education.
How are students selected/identified to work with the Math and Science Center? We look for students who have the desire and potential to succeed academically. We often receive referrals from school counselors, teachers and community agencies that believe certain students are outstanding candidates for the program. In addition, we generate interest by conducting informational presentations at high schools.
When selecting students to participate in the Math and Science Center, we use a holistic approach that encompasses reviewing their application for admissions, academic transcript, letter of recommendation from a teacher or counselor and interviewing them. This approach allows us to evaluate a student's application individually and subjectively. As we all know, test scores do not provide an accurate picture of a student's ability and potential. The holistic approach allows us to take into account many variables and factors. It should be noted that the students we select must be potential first-generation college students and/or come from low-income families as stipulated by the U.S. Department of Education, which is the Math and Science Center's funding source.