Vol. 19, No. 8Oct. 21, 1999

NUCLEUS coordinator shares her enthusiasm for program

Cherie Dotson, the new coordinator of the NUCLEUS (Network of Undergraduate Collaborative Learning Experiences for Underrepresented Scholars) Program for underrepresented students interested in the sciences, knows from experience the important role of such programs in encouraging and supporting students to excel in their chosen fields.

In high school in Detroit, Dotson recalled, she had an excellent and enthusiastic chemistry teacher who nominated her for a program for urban, minority high school students at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

The program provided her with her first research experience, and she spent two summers and Saturdays during the school year on the Ann Arbor campus, as well as in the university's farm fields, carrying out experiments on crops and plants, she said.

After majoring in chemistry at Spelman College, she returned to the University of Michigan and received her doctorate in inorganic chemistry last spring.

Along the way, she participated in and benefited greatly from programs with goals similar to those of NUCELUS, which helped her obtain an internship at AT&T Bell Labs (now Lucent Technologies) and a stint at General Motors Technology Center. She also interacted with high school and undergraduate students in similar programs as a graduate student.

The interest and help of her teachers and professors plus the opportunities that came her way were influential factors in her life, Dotson said, adding that she hopes to pass on the same encouragement and support to UD students.

She has been meeting and advising students in the NUCLEUS Program, who have strong interest in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, medical technology, physics and computer science.

Students who are interested in physical therapy or medical careers also participate in NUCLEUS, which is funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

The program's kickoff event was Sept. 11 when a fall orientation and mixer was held. The schedule included an overview of University resources and services for students, short presentations by the Counseling and Student Development, the Career Services Center and the Writing Center, and a preview of the year's program. After lunch, social, fun activities enabled students to get to know each other.

The NUCLEUS office is student-friendly, with computers, tables for studying, books to supplement textbooks, graduate school catalogs and even files of old exams to look over.

Dotson said her message to freshmen who plan to major in the sciences is clear-"Stay on top of your studies and be serious about them from day one." It's easy, she said, to get caught up in college life and fall behind, but she encourages students to perform well from the start.

For sophomores and juniors in NUCLEUS, Dotson said she wants to help them focus on their goals, build up their skills and become involved in undergraduate research.

For seniors, she said her role is to provide them with the information and direction they need for graduate and professional schools and successful careers.

In the future, Dotson said she wants to go to local junior and senior high schools to impress upon students that attending UD is an attainable goal if they do their part and prepare themselves for college. She said she also would like students to visit the campus to get a taste of college life, and she hopes to involve NUCLEUS students as tutors and mentors for the younger teenagers.

"My education has prepared me to be a science educator and a researcher. I am, however, excited about using my skills to help underrepresented students at UD succeed in the sciences and encourage younger students to consider college and scientific careers," Dotson said.

For further information about NUCLEUS, visit its newly designed web site at <http:www. udel.edu/NUCLEUS>.

-Sue Moncure