Registration Now Open Atlanta, GA September 20-23, 2017

2017 Tapia Conference

Learning Communities for Underrepresented Students in Computer Science

Thursday, September 21, 2017 — 4:00PM - 5:00PM



As a first-year at Pomona College, I noticed the lack of diversity, mentorship, and community within the computer science department. I struggled both inside and outside the classroom setting because I felt out of place and struggled with imposter syndrome. In order to overcome these issues, I reached out to the few Latino students that had either taken the introductory courses or majored in CS. They expressed their concerns regarding diversity and representation in the department and shared their experiences with me. I was fortunate enough to find mentors that were willing to share their experiences with me in order to help me see that I was not alone in the department.

In an attempt to provide support and community to other students, I created a learning community for underrepresented students in the intro classes in CS. The idea for the learning community originated from Pomona College’s math department, in which they assign a mentor to a small group of students in a class. The goal for the learning community I created in the CS department is to offer students a space in which they can feel comfortable asking their peers questions without judgment. The sessions consist of peer-to-peer mentoring as well as department TAs giving one-on-one help. I want students to know they do belong in computer science and that there are students with similar experiences. I hope that with the proper support system in the introductory courses, more underrepresented students will be motivated to major in CS.

BOF Organizer:
Alejandro A. Vasquez, Pomona College