|In 1990, the difference between campus life for Minority students at historically white and historically black universities was pronounced. Each African American, Native America
n, or Hispanic student at an HWCU found that much of the time he or she found little or no support for any academic endeavors - the student was alone in pursuit of good grades. Any sense of community came from fraternities, sororities, or other ethnic groups and clubs. Junior and senior minority students rarely talked to freshmen and sophomores on an academic level.
The MSU/IMAGE program made a difference in the academic atmosphere available to minority students from the first year. IMAGE brought together all levels of students with financial support and mentoring. Although other Mississippi universities were giving full scholarships to their summer bridge students, MSU/IMAGE gave 83 partial scholarships to all minority students who were enrolled in the SME (science, mathematics, and engineering) curricula and who signed up for the IMAGE program. Regular seminars were given to all IMAGE students, and some were given by junior and senior students who had experiences in cooperative education, campus research, and summer research experiences at other institutions. A special room was designated for tutoring and committee activities.
Because of the experiences of the first year of the IMAGE program, over a dozen students decided to go to graduate school, instead of taking an industrial or governmental position after graduation. Several of these were GEM Fellows, the first being designated in the fall of 1992. Since that time, MSU/IMAGE has produced seventeen GEM Fellows, one NSF Fellow, and a number of graduates who were supported in graduate school at major universities by other sources.