The UT Health San Antonio Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Chapter participated at the Local Conference Committee reception held at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk on February 8, 2018. At this evening reception, our university chapter had the opportunity to join the members of the SACNAS national leadership to discuss the 2018 SACNAS – The National Diversity in STEM Conference, the programs offered by SACNAS, and other sponsorship/partnership opportunities.
According to the SACNAS website, “SACNAS is an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in STEM.” It is this inclusivity that allowed SACNAS to become the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary STEM organization in the country.
One of the major themes of the reception was about embracing one’s culture and carrying it with them throughout their careers in STEM fields. This is reflected in this year conference logo, designed by Debora Kuetzpal Vasquez. The artist wanted to celebrate her culture and therefore, in her painting she illustrated the Quetzalcoatl orbiting an atom to represent the merging of Mayan and Aztec cultures with the energy of science.
This year, SACNAS has chosen to hold their annual SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference and to celebrate their 45th Anniversary here at San Antonio. It is a pleasure to see that this organization is returning especially since San Antonio is so rich in tradition, community engagement and culture. It is also becoming a major hub for biotechnology companies.
However, decision did not come without some woes. Recently the Board of Directors of SACNAS voted to keep the 2018 National Diversity in STEM Conference in San Antonio despite the Assembly Bill No. 1887 (AB 1887), a State of California law which prohibits use of state funds for travel to states that passed a law after June 26, 2015 authorizing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, or voids or repeals existing state or local protections against such discrimination. The law expressly identifies the University of California as an entity covered by the law. It is easy to see how both of these laws could make it difficult and greatly impact California-based students to attend this year’s conference in Texas.
During the reception, the leadership stressed the needed support of SACNAS members in mobilizing Texas for a successful event. “With your support, we look forward to building on our collective progress since our last visit to San Antonio, and putting together a 45th Anniversary conference that both inspires our community and honors our legacy.”- Jenny Kurzweil (Director of Communications & Marketing), Rolando Madrid (Director of Programs) and John D. Winnett (Director of Development)
To learn more about this year’s SACNAS conference, visit http://sacnas.org/what-we-do/conference/
This article was written by Thu Duong, Jeffrey Kim, Shaimar GonzA¡lez Morales, Alex Kirkpatrick, members of the UT Health San Antonio Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Chapter. The “Beyond The Bench” series features articles written by students and postdoctoral fellows at the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.