Cornell University Seeks to Boost Retention of Black Students in Computer Science

Only one percent of students majoring in computer science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York are Black. Students from other racial or ethnic groups that historically have been underrepresented in the field of computer science are also scarce.

Part of the problem is that students of color who come to Cornell intending to major in computer science, often change their plans after arriving on campus. Two seniors – Rami Abdou and Jehron Petty – have formed Underrepresented Minorities in Computing at Cornell (URMC), a club that seeks to support and inspire students of color in computer and information science.

URMC organizes mentorship events, designed to connect underclassmen thinking of pursuing computer science with upperclassmen in such majors, to provide guidance and precedent. Through social events and gatherings, URMC fosters connections and a tighter community amongst the minority student body at Cornell. URMC recruiting events and company-sponsored tech talks are an opportunity for minority students to connect with leading companies in the industry.

Faculty members have also established the Pre-Sophomore Summer Program in Computer Science. The all-expenses-paid four-week course will provide rising Cornell sophomores with instruction in discrete structures, computer system organization, programming and data structures – all with the goal of better preparing them for challenging sophomore-level computing classes.


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