Nationally, 7.8% of ASHA members and affiliates are members of a racial minority as compared with 27.6% of the U.S. population (ASHA, 2014). Additionally, 4.6% identify their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino, compared with 16.3% of the U.S. population. This disparity negatively impacts speech and hearing services to an increasingly diverse general population and underscores the need for education programs to recruit, mentor, and retain students from underrepresented minorities early in their education to increase student entry and success in graduate speech and hearing science (SPHS) programs.
Challenges in recruitment and retention of minority students is linked to several factors. Academic self-efficacy is mediated by expectations about one’s capacity to accomplish certain tasks or demonstrate certain behaviors (Hackett and Betz, 1981). If students perceive limited environmental support and sense barriers to graduate work in SPHS, they may not pursue those careers despite interest or ability. Differential socialization experiences for African Americans and Hispanics, including social and institutional discrimination, may cause students to avoid particular career paths (Lent, Hackett, & Brown, 1999). Additionally, poor performance in freshman and sophomore level classes may limit the possibilities into highly competitive graduate speech language pathology (SLP) and audiology (AuD) programs (Weiss & Purdy, 2011). Program capacity is determined by available resources to maintain high levels of quality. Quality assurance is evaluated internally and externally (e.g., Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology). As such, the competition for graduate school admission is high.
Quality Care was developed at Lamar University (LU) to address these challenges through targeted recruitment and the establishment of a peer-mentoring program. Quality Care was funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board: Minority Health Research and Education Grant Program.