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  1. Abstract This S_STEM project is designed to support the retention and graduation of high-achieving, low income students with demonstrated financial need at Baylor University. Over its five-year duration, this project will fund four-year scholarships to 22 students who are pursuing Bachelor degrees in Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science. Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) Scholars will participate in activities which include an orientation, a monthly seminar series and required faculty mentoring. Support services and activities for ECS Scholars build upon existing activities at Baylor and feature peer mentoring, study abroad opportunities, alumni mentoring, support and training for undergraduate research, professional development workshops, and tutoring support from the ECS Learning Resource Center. A distinguishing feature of the project is the use of EAB’s Navigate, a web-based software platform for tracking student progress, coordinating student care and employing predictive analytics. The expertise generated using a student dashboard capable of predictive analytics will have the broad impact of informing the STEM community of best practices for timely interventions, and improving retention and graduation rates. The Navigate platform is used for predictive analytics and to track and document ECS Scholar progress toward achieving benchmark goals in the areas of retention, graduation rates, internships, undergraduate research experiences, and job placement. The use of predictive analytics has significant potential for helping students arrive at successful outcomes. However, it is an assumption of this project that the successful use of predictive analytics should take into consideration not simply the accuracy in identifying students who are struggling but in the social attributions of success and perceptions of a “big data” tool that might be received alternatively with enthusiasm or suspicion. The focus of this paper will be to give an overview of our first-year results from the project. We were successful in recruiting the full first cohort that began in the Fall of 2020. For the first year, many of the engagement sessions with the students pivoted to a virtual experience, however, we were able to manage several events that fostered a sense of community among the ECS scholars. Our research partners from the Baylor School of Education were successful in conducting baseline qualitative research using detailed interviews with an initial focus on community fit, academic fit and faculty relationships. The paper will also summarize our use of the Navigate platform and the lessons learned in the areas of data capture and interventions. 
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  2. Full Paper: Involvement, Identity, and Success in an NSF-funded STEM Access Program In the United States, attrition in STEM fields has been a point of growing concern. The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a variety of programs aimed at bolstering access and success for STEM students (National Academy of Sciences, 2011; Olson & Riordan, 2012). Though few access programs evaluate involvement, student success literature evidences a clear relationship between involvement and success (Astin, 1999; Mayhew et al., 2016). Accordingly, our phenomenological study explored how high-achieving, low-income STEM students in an NSF funded STEM Access Program at Baylor University perceive and experience involvement and success in light of their multiple identities. Baylor University’s ECS Scholars Program currently supports two cohorts of 11 students pursuing degrees in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. As a part of the program, Scholars are engaged in student and faculty mentoring which allows them to meaningfully connect with a support network. In addition, students attend monthly seminars designed to help support their success in and outside of the classroom. These students’ experiences were explored via 60 to 90-minute in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Interviews were transcribed, coded, and themed by the research team. Alternate data collection methods—including campus mapping, photo elicitation, and identity wheel construction exercises—complemented interview data and added additional depth and insight to student statements. Our collective analysis revealed that, in essence, involvement is an arena in which high-achieving, low-income STEM students prioritize and live out salient identities in alignment with their understandings of success. Such findings inform recommendations concerning how faculty and staff may broaden and reframe understandings of involvement to more effectively support the success of STEM students in similar access programs. 
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