The STEM-Gems program uses data-based retention strategies to help historically at-risk undergraduates on their way towards a degree from the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Students in the STEM-Gems program get help from both academic counselors and Hajim School graduate students who reach out to undergraduates even before they get to campus through the Early Connections Opportunity (ECO) program and through a targeted communications plan over the course of the students’ undergraduate tenure.

In addition to helping with personalized academic interventions for STEM-Gem students, the STEM-Gem coordinator also studies the students' performance in introductory chemistry, math, engineering, and physics courses. Through this analysis, the Hajim School has been able to forge relationships with these academic departments to address both positive progress of individuals and coordinate appropriate course placement when applicable.

We help STEM-Gem students achieve success by assisting them with:

  • Deciding on a major
  • Ensuring proper math placement
  • Course selection
  • Academic performance
  • Clusters
  • Enrolling in summer programs
  • Participating in professional organizations (NSBE, SHPE)
  • Personal issues affecting academics

Students who are interested in joining the STEM-Gem program should fill out this online form to get in touch with a STEM-Gem advisor.


To be eligible for the STEM-Gem program students should fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • Underrepresented minority students:
    • African-American
    • Hispanic
    • Multiracial
    • Native-American
  • DACA and undocumented students
  • United States veteran or active service member

Referring a Student

Faculty or staff members can refer students who they think would benefit from academic or personal assistance. If you are unsure if a student qualifies as a STEM-Gem, please still refer them anyway—we will still reach out.

Prospective Students

Our advisors are have no input on your admission to the University of Rochester, so you can have a no-stakes conversation about your future in engineering where there is no penalty for getting something wrong. You are allowed to ask our advisors any question, no matter how small or how big.

We know this is a tough decision, particularly if you are the first in your family to go to college. You may have questions about what kind of student community there is for underrepresented students. We can answer this, but more importantly we can connect you with current students to get their opinion. We ask these students to be completely honest about their experience so you can get their perspective before you make a decision.

Students who are interested in joining the STEM-Gem program should fill out this online form to get in touch with a STEM-Gem advisor.

Coordinating Resources

The STEM-Gems program collaborates with a network of University offices including:

In addition to academic support and the coordination of resources, the transformation from peer to colleague is reinforced by encouraging STEM‐Gems to engage with engineering societies such as the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). The STEM-Gems programs offers significant logistical and financial support to the University of Rochester chapters of these groups.


If you have any questions about the STEM-Gems program, or are interested in learning more, please contact Richard Colon, at You can also schedule an appointment online.