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Welcoming & Celebrating our Health Sciences LEAP Students

Aug 22, 2022

This is a wonderful time of year. Students are returning to campus. Our own children or siblings or ourselves may be beginning a new educational journey, and the University of Utah Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (UHEDI) office is no different. UHEDI sponsors many programs that have returning students, but today’s article will focus on Health Sciences LEAP (HS-LEAP). This year is a banner year in that we are increasing the cohort of Health Sciences LEAP students. In addition, we are also celebrating the accomplishments of this outstanding group of students. In May 2022, we celebrated the 24 students that completed HS-LEAP during the pandemic.  A full third of them, eight, will be attending master's, Ph.D., or M.D. programs at schools of medicine across this country. This is a major accomplishment, but they are not unique in their accomplishments. A recent study, published in 2020 highlights these accomplishments. Major findings are explored here.

HS-LEAP students reflect greater race, ethnic, and gender diversity than non HS-LEAP University of Utah students, as illustrated in Table 1.

Table 1: University of Utah Undergraduate Student and HS-LEAP Student Demographics

Demographics Non-HS-LEAP HS-LEAP
  n % n %
Asian* 2,559 6 114 28
Black or African American 506 1 30 7
White, Non-Latinx** 29,319 72 30 7
International 1,653 4 7 2
Latinx 4,130 10 167 41
Multiple race/ethnicity 1,436 4 17 4
American Indian/Alaska Native 197 0 10 2
Pacific Islander 246 1 3 1
Unknown 734 2 10 2
Women 20,113 49 305 75
Men 20,667 51 103 25
Total 40,780   408  

Abbreviation: HS-LEAP, Health Sciences Learning, Engagement, Achievement and Progress program.

* Mostly underrepresented, southeast Asian or refugee

** First generation or rural students

HS-LEAP has always recognized that the value of the individual student is far beyond their individual ACT score. In fact, we have largely ignored those scores, and our HS-LEAP cohorts have lower ACT scores than most University of Utah students, as illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Non-HS-LEAP and HS-LEAP Participant Stratification by ACT Score

Population Distribution by ACT

Aggregating 2005-2017 first-time freshmen cohorts.
Only includes those students who submitted an ACT score.

a bar graph displaying the ACT scores of HS-LEAP students to non-HS-LEAP students, the HS-LEAP students have lower ACT scores compared to their counterparts

Abbreviation: HS-LEAP, Health Sciences Learning, Engagement, Achievement and Progress program.

 

Because talent is not limited to ACT scores, HS-LEAP students graduate sooner, have higher fall-to-fall retention rates, and have higher GPA’s than their non-HS-LEAP counterparts, as illustrated in Table 2.

Table 2: GPA, Fall-to-Fall Retention, and 6-Year Graduation Rate by ACT Cohort

  GPA Fall-to-Fall Retention Rate 6-Year Graduation Rate
  HS-LEAP Non-HS-LEAP Variance HS-LEAP Non-HS-LEAP Variance HS-LEAP Non-HS-LEAP Variance
ACT <21 2.919 2.603 0.316** 84.3% 68.4% 0.159** 48.6% 40.0% 0.086*
ACT 22-24 3.258 2.825 0.434** 92.5% 70.0% 0.225* 58.1% 46.6% 0.117*
ACT 25-27 3.528 3.011 0.517** 93.0% 73.2% 0.198** 71.8% 51.4% 0.204*
ACT 28+ 3.750 3.359 0.391** 94.6% 75.7% 0.189** 70.6% 62.2% 0.084*

Abbreviation: HS-LEAP, Health Sciences Learning, Engagement, Achievement and Progress program.

All rates unadjusted for allowable exclusions and include both full-time and part-time first-time freshmen and will, therefore, differ from officially reported rates.

* Significance level, P=.05

** Significance level, P=.01

GPA reported on 4-point scale.

Most importantly, HS-LEAP students do not stop at undergraduate education, and their graduate school matriculation is illustrated in Table 3.

Table 3: Graduate Degrees Obtained by HS-LEAP Participants and HS-LEAP Completers

Graduate Field of Study % HS-LEAP Completers n
(n=27)
% HS-LEAP Participants n
(n=23)
MD 22 6 4 1
PharmD 26 7 13 3
DDS 7 2 0 0
DPT 4 1 0 0
MSW 4 1 13 3
PA-C 0 0 17 4
Chiropractor 0 0 4 1
MS, health promotion 4 1 0 0
MPH 7 2 0 0
MS, psychology 4 1 0 0
PhD, neurology 4 1 0 0
MS, health systems 0 0 4 1
MEd 7 2 4 1
JD 4 1 0 0
MBA 7 2 13 3
MS, engineering 4 1 0 0
MS, mathematics 4 1 0 0
MS, student affairs 0 0 4 1
MS, information systems 0 0 4 1
MS, human resources 0 0 4 1
MS, postsecondary administration 0 0 4 1
MS, urban planning 0 0 4 1
MA, American literature 0 0 4 1

Abbreviation: HS-LEAP, Health Sciences Learning, Engagement, Achievement and Progress program.

The bottom line is this: HS-LEAP works, and it is associated with very successful students. We are honored to know them and to be a small part of their education. And with this, we welcome our newest class of HS-LEAP students and welcome all our returning students. May this year bring great experiences and continued success.

 

Bliss C, Wood N, Martineau M, Hawes KB, López AM, Rodríguez JE. Exceeding Expectations: Students Underrepresented in Medicine at University of Utah Health. Fam Med. 2020;52(8):570-575. https://doi.org/10.22454/FamMed.2020.137698.