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Mathur and Kamat gift $20,000 to UTSA Prefreshman Engineering Program

Mathur and Kamat gift $20,000 to UTSA Prefreshman Engineering Program

Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School Ambika Mathur (right) and husband Deepak Kamat (left) have donated $20,000 to the UTSA Prefreshman Engineering Program.

FEBRUARY 28, 2022 — UTSA Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the UTSA Graduate School Ambika Mathur and her husband, Deepak Kamat, have donated $20,000 to the Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP), a pre-college summer program that increases participation among traditionally underrepresented middle and high school students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Upon its founding in 1979 by UTSA mathematics professor Manuel P. Berriozábal, PREP was a trailblazing initiative that encouraged students, particularly minority and female students, to pursue careers in STEM fields. The first PREP summer program launched in San Antonio with 50 students. More than 40 years later, the program exists at more than 125 school districts across Texas as well as school districts in California, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Idaho.

PREP has served over 50,000 Texas students alone during the past 40 years, with more than 65% of participants identifying as Hispanic and 53% as female. Serving as a national model for providing high-quality, low-cost STEM education and college preparation, the PREP program received national recognition as a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education in 2015 by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

“PREP has long been a transformative force in our local communities. This gift will help sustain that legacy.”

Increasing participation in the STEM fields among students who are often overlooked has been a long-time mission for Mathur and Kamat. Their donation will help fund guest speakers in area classrooms and other educational activities to advance the annual STEM program.

By expanding equitable access and participation in innovative STEM programming, PREP is key to motivating and inspiring middle and high school students to these fields, and promoting collaboration between institutions of higher education, school districts, industry and the community. The focus on underrepresented middle-school students is important to Mathur, who said this is when many students begin to lose interest in or be discouraged from pursuing opportunities in the science and math fields.

“Pipeline programs such as PREP are not only integral to the future of our community in terms of personal and scientific advancement but also for enriching civic life and engagement. This generous contribution from Mathur and Kamat will make it possible to create turning points or pivotal experiences that spark curiosity and a passion to explore within children who have the greatest needs,” said Mario Torres, dean of the UTSA College of Education and Human Development. “PREP has long been a transformative force in our local communities. This gift will help sustain that legacy.”

Mathur’s career has been driven by a commitment to increasing diversity within STEM, both in terms of population and subject matter. As the dean of the graduate school and associate provost for the Office of Scientific Training, Workforce Development and Diversity at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mathur became the founding director of the university’s new combined M.D./Ph.D. program. While there, she encouraged students to earn their doctoral degrees in a variety of subjects from physics to music. The ultimate goal of all this work is to expand interest in and access to STEM education among members of underrepresented communities.

“The more students we get from various communities, the bigger the impact,” Mathur explained. “Who knows better how to serve the population than the people who have grown up in the community itself?”

These are the students, Mathur added, who will apply their personal experiences to solve the challenges and address the needs of their respective neighborhoods.

Mathur also cited the importance of science education in the life of an individual. From climate policy to everyday decisions during a pandemic, she said that understanding basic scientific concepts empowers people to make their own informed decisions.

“Be a voice in the decision making,” Mathur said, “so you’re not letting somebody else dictate to you what you should be doing but acting based on your own knowledge.”

When it comes to engaging individuals and communities of San Antonio, Mathur said UTSA has a unique opportunity.

⇒ Learn more about the Prefreshman Engineering Program at UTSA.
⇒ Explore the Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design at UTSA.

“San Antonio has such a rich history of bringing students together to improve the future of everybody in the community. To use a cliché: ‘Nobody’s left behind,’” she said. “Why not increase the representation of students within STEM who may not have had access to such opportunities, especially since UTSA just became a Tier One university? We clearly are there at the cutting edge.”

Christopher Reichert

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

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We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.