Ellise LaMotte named director for STEM diversity

Ellise LaMotte is the new director of STEM diversity as of this semester, and she has plans to enrich community outreach at the Center for STEM Diversity as well as improve visibility of minority students in STEM at Tufts.

LaMotte holds a Ph.D. in education from University of Massachusetts Boston and has worked at institutions such as Olin College of Engineering and Babson School of Business Admissions office.

LaMotte has begun her role at the center by accompanying STEM ambassadors to Somerville high school classrooms to make interactive presentations in bilingual classrooms, according to TuftsNow.

LaMotte wants to provide access to career advising, resume building and networking with “the opportunity to share scientific presentations and interactive experiments with students.”

Sophomore Murshea Tuor of the First Generation Student Collective, a group representing the students that are the first in their families to attend college, explained the value of seeing diversity in academia.

“It’s really powerful when I go through a professors list and there is a brown woman who is an M.D., Ph.D. that looks like me,” Tuor said. “If they can make it, then I can make it too.”

LaMotte said that although the Center for STEM Diversity has come a long way in the past few years, she believes that there is still a long path ahead. Tuor echoed this.

“[Tufts] does a lot of outreach to low income people of color who are first-generation … and I feel like there’s more space here, but [women of color] are definitely still a minority group on this campus,” Tuor said.

LaMotte told the Daily that she hopes to expand two programs at Tufts that cater to minority students in STEM fields at Tufts: the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program and the Redefining the Image of Science and Engineering (RISE) program. 

“[There is a] plan to continue the BEST program and grow the RISE program to a year-long seminar as well as finding other ways to engage and support more underrepresented students in STEM,” LaMotte said.

She added that the programs will eventually be streamlined to fit the most effective framework for Tufts students.

Reflecting on her past, LaMotte said that she has felt “out of place in an academic environment.” However, she told TuftsNow that the position at the Center for STEM Diversity is “her dream job,” where she can work to support STEM majors, specifically engineers who she feels are lacking the most in support for minorities.

“I wish I knew about the opportunity that the Center for STEM Diversity holds,” Roger Gu, a junior, said. “I want to take advantage of any facet I can [as] the pool of people who look like me in my major grows smaller and smaller every year.”

LaMotte hopes to collaborate with national organizations and student groups that have similar goals to support diversity in STEM.

“[We should continue] to connect with the STEM clubs that support underrepresented student populations like the National Society of Black Engineers [and] Out in STEM … to showcase the Center’s work and activities,” LaMotte said.

LaMotte said that despite the small number of minority students in STEM, unrepresented students have more to look forward to as LaMotte wishes to expand to the arts and sciences curriculum and majors available. The Office of Student Success and Advising is working with LaMotte to create greater visibility of her programs and support for the underrepresented profile.

“It’s really nice to see that kind of representation now … there’s mostly kids from my generation that are moving up in economic class,” Tuor said.