Dua Chaker has a gleam in her eyes when she talks about GoldShirt.
“This program is a wonderful opportunity for me to be involved in engineering. It has really expanded my chances for a good career,” says the first-year student who is part of the first cohort of GoldShirt Program students at CU Engineering.
Sixteen talented and motivated students who need additional math, science, or humanities preparation before diving into the full undergraduate engineering curriculum were admitted to the pilot GoldShirt Program last fall. The program is hosted through the college’s Broadening Opportunity through Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center.
Similar to the redshirt programs commonly used to extend students’ eligibility to participate in college athletics, GoldShirt students expect to spend five years completing their undergraduate engineering degrees at CU-Boulder.
GoldShirt starts with a two-week summer bridge program to prepare students for fall classes, after which they are placed in small classes in math, physics, and humanities during their first semester. The students also take the First Year Engineering Projects course and Leadership and Self-Management to help establish them on the path to success.
So far, the first cohort of GoldShirt students has done well, averaging a 3.43 GPA in their first semester as compared to the college-wide average of 2.9. Eleven of the GoldShirt students also are taking calculus this spring, which puts them ahead of the program’s expectation.
“The first term has been very high touch,” says program director Tanya Ennis, pictured above working with students. “Their success has a lot to do with them understanding the program and taking ownership of their desire to succeed.”
Chaker has definitely done that: “Just because engineering seems hard doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” she says. “I have the passion and I know that putting in the time early on so I stay on track is important.”
In addition to her academic work, Chaker has gotten involved in student activities and serves as co-chair of the BOLD Center’s Student Leadership Council. She also looks forward to being involved in recruiting the program’s next cohort of students. “It’s a chance to become a role model and show what you can do,” she says.
Program leaders are looking at doubling the number of new students to 30–34 next fall.