Abstract: Those of us in science and math careers had many experiences to help us get here. From our own independent projects, to a teacher who took a special interest and gave us extra problems, to clubs and competitions, we were shaped not just by the standard school curriculum but in how we went beyond it. Now imagine someone who wants to be a scientist or a mathematician entering their freshman year of college---but who doesn't have that same preparation. College is a difficult transition for everyone, but on top of the usual challenges, an underserved student will have far fewer academic experiences that demanded college-level thinking, and they might be entering a very different culture. Far too many low-income and underrepresented students drop out at this point, contributing to the gaps we see in attainment at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Everyone talks about the need for greater diversity in math and science, but what can we actually do about it? I will first look at the kind of thinking that our fields demand of us and the preparation many of us received. Then, I'll share the progress made at Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), a program I started in New York City which provides this pathway for underserved students. In particular, I will talk about what it means (and takes) to teach deep, rich, proof-based mathematics to young students with disadvantaged backgrounds, and what is required to coach them into taking up other opportunities in the future.