Support Graduate Division's Competitive Edge
The Competitive Edge program is a full-time summer research intensive for entering doctoral students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The program is funded directly through the Graduate Division and aims to increase diversity in STEM, and promote access for doctoral students underrepresented in their fields and interested in pursuing a university or research career. Designed to enhance their experience as graduate students, the six-week long program provides faculty-guided research and mentoring, professional development workshops, and cohort-based community building that strengthens and ensures students’success as they transition into full-time doctoral study at UCLA.
Initially funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the program began with only two participants in 2007. With increasing success, the program grew to award ten participants by 2011, and 19 by 2015. But in 2016, NSF funding stopped, and since then, Graduate Division continued the program through internal funds, knowing that sustaining the program was crucial in ensuring the growing diversity in STEM doctoral programs at UCLA.
With the changing landscape of graduate funding opportunities throughout the nation, this program serves as a crucial source of inspiration for many students from underrepresented backgrounds, particularly in the STEM fields. Programs like Competitive Edge are at the forefront of ensuring increased representation--not only on campus today--but as students become future educators to inspire the next generation of scientists and innovators.
Currently, Competitive Edge participants constitute only a small percentage of incoming doctoral students in any given year. Through this campaign, we seek to increase the number of awards to ensure more students of varying backgrounds will be able to participate in this important program and to match the increase seen in nominations in recent years.
The level of excellence among our students and alumni goes beyond UCLA. In creating better access for our students, our alumni in turn have brought their hard work back to their communities.
Participants of this program have gone on to become leaders in their fields, with a particular impact in higher education and health care. In fact, 74% of our doctoral STEM grads at UCLA go on to work in higher education and research at universities throughout the nation.
Your participation in this campaign is testament to the power of graduate education as a tool for effecting change. Through the Competitive Edge program, we are not only building a growing community of STEM educators and scientists, but also reflecting one of the core values of UCLA as an institution that promotes diversity as a pathway for opportunity and social impact.
Thank you for joining us as a donor, alumnus, and friend of Graduate Division. Our students’ voices are amplified through your support, and electrifies the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration at UCLA.