Reaching the Pinnacle (RTP) encompasses New Mexico and western portions of Texas and first and foremost pursues the advancement of people with disabilities in STEM career areas. It supports efforts towards this goal from the high school level of education through graduate studies. In addition, Reaching the Pinnacle pursues advancement opportunities for persons with disabilities in STEM by partnering with regional corporations, government entities, educational and service organizations, national laboratories and corporate partners. Together with its alliance partners, RTP strives to increase opportunities for people with disabilities in their personal and professional pursuits at all levels and society at large in the overall pursuit of improving our world.
The ultimate goal for RTP is the complete erasure of barriers to people with disabilities seeking a career in STEM (or any field). RTP shares this vision of a barrier-free world along with many people, disabilities notwithstanding. Through daily work toward a system designed for universal access, the hope is that such a world will be pursued with vigor and that incremental improvements will be evident and will make differences in peoples' lives and attitudes. In the shorter term, we seek institutionalization of essential programs, particularly in the area of STEM education, including summer programs and support for mentors, along with a change in legal and social attitudes that comes with such systemic change.
Alliance is a key element of our project. With strong connections between alliance members and common goals of supporting access to education, our aspirations can be achieved. The RTP network of educational and affiliate partners is spread extensively throughout New Mexico and far west Texas.
The flagship program of Reaching the Pinnacle, the Mentor Program provides mentorship funding to qualified college students throughout the RTP region. To qualify, a student must be studying in a STEM related and NSF-approved degree program, hold a minimum 2.0 GPA and have an identified disability. Mentors are the heart of the RTP project, exemplifying the essence of the mission statement to increase the advancement of people with disabilities in STEM careers. To date, RTP has graduated 60 mentors in STEM areas. Many of these students participated in past years at RTP sponsored summer programs or in mentor-run projects. These individuals are the future engineers, scientists and mathematicians with identified disabilities pursuing their dreams. By working hard on their coursework and still finding time to mentor younger students, these dedicated individuals represent the finest efforts of our upcoming professionals while encouraging the next generation to follow in their footsteps.
RASSI SUMMER INSTITUTES
Partner or mentor projects which take place in summer, during normal school vacation, offer unique opportunities outside of school. The RTP Science Summer Institute (RASSI), was born out of similar summer programs dating back to 1992. Today, three to four RASSI programs are held each year in various areas of the RTP region. The basic format is a one-week, hands-on science camp involving 15-30 students with an average of about 60% students with disabilities. Students learn and enjoy science in a fun, stimulating environment covering STEM topics from wildlife and astronomy to math and engineering.
RTP partners are funded under Partner Projects to provide teacher training, student experiences and other STEM related projects at their respective institutions. Utilizing their own expertise and regional resources, coupled with RTP funding these projects reach far and wide in the RTP region, influencing educational systems throughout New Mexico and west Texas. As with all RTP projects they focus on disability issues in STEM education and offer a chance for institutions to address these issues in their own communities, taking advantage of their intimate understanding of their own communities' needs.
"This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Continuing Grant No. HRD 0622930."
"Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation."