Math professor Mark Tomforde oversees a UH program called CHAMP, which stands for Cougars and Houston Area Math Program. UH students tutor area high school students in math.
“The issue is that there are large portions of the population that are not being given ops to get into STEM fields,” he said. “At the same time, at this time in history, STEM fields are important, and we need more people working in these fields for the benefit of the economy, the country and science.”
The UH students are mostly majoring in STEM related fields, that is science, technology, engineering and math. Some are preparing to be math teachers. No one gets credit. Though everyone benefits.
“The high school students benefit from the mathematics they learn and the chance to visit a college campus and to interact with college students,” Tomforde said. “The UH students get the satisfaction of helping other students, reaching out to the community that surround UH.”
Some of the volunteers come from student organizations like the UH Chapter of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the UH Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and teachHouston.
“Just by them coming to campus and seeing so many students and being on the campus it gives them a more realistic idea of what college is all about,” said Sara Chehade, a math major and CHAMP volunteer—one of the many who spend two days a week either tutoring the high school students or providing lessons. “Going into the buildings, going into the classrooms, walking by all the students, it makes it more realistic for them to see themselves years doing the same thing.”
While CHAMP is partially supported by a grant from the Mathematical Association of America, more donations allow the effort to reach more high school students.
CHAMP has helped many students understand mathematics and encouraged them to pursue college dreams.
“When I see the effectiveness of CHAMP I’m very proud. I think it’s helping to contribute to social justice and providing more opportunities for everyone,” Tomforde said.
CHAMP is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.