The UT Health San Antonio SACNAS Chapter spoke on Sept. 7 at Texas Lutheran University (TLU), as part of the university’s seminar series.
The seminar was intended to inform students about the various careers in biomedical research, introduce them to SACNAS and its mission statement, and to provide first-hand experiences from graduate students at UT Health San Antonio.
Prior to the seminar, the officers from the SACNAS chapter, including president Thu Duong, historian Liliana Espinoza, and communication coordinator and national liaison Jeffrey Kim, met with TLU professors Drs. Grove, Jonas, and Sauncy to discuss the national organization’s mission statement and the importance of diversity in the STEM field.
During the seminar, a majority of the students expressed their passion for science, as well as their altruistic motives for pursuing a career in medicine. Still, many were unaware of other career options they could follow after obtaining their biology degree.
Accordingly, the SACNAS chapter officers talked about the possibility of applying to graduate school and becoming a biomedical researcher. Students learned about the various masters and doctoral programs offered at UT Health San Antonio. In particular, the officers talked about the Integrated Biomedical Sciences (IBMS) graduate program, highlighting its interdisciplinary nature as one of its main drawing points.
Moreover, in hopes of inspiring undergraduate students, the SACNAS officers talked about their journey to graduate school, their reasons for choosing UT Health San Antonio, their current research projects, and their future career inspirations.
Each SACNAS officer provided a different perspective on pursuing a career in biomedical research that was based on a common love for science. These experiences were shared with the intent to teach students about the numerous other ways in which they can help people with their research.
Considering that many undergraduates at TLU are first generation students, it is also possible that many lacked the knowledge about careers in biomedical research, because they did not have the guidance and mentorship from students who were currently taking that path.
“As SACNISTAs, we were inclined to carry out the missions, visions, and, values of SACNAS and UT Health San Antonio to foster the development of students, and to diversify STEM. Therefore, we introduced them to SACNAS and encouraged them to use this resource to guide them on their professional journeys in STEM. We informed them of an opportunity to meet and network with their peers and scientists at the SACNAS 2018 National Diversity in STEM Conference. Moreover, we also offered to be their peer mentors, who they can reach out to for help and advice on their academic path,” Duong said.
The seminar was followed by an interactive “Q&A session” where students were encouraged to ask questions ranging from what a PI is, to what life as a biomedical researcher is like. Overall, this was an enjoyable and rewarding experience for all.
“This encouraged us to reach out to more students, so they are informed of the available options. We were also pleased to meet some of the faculty members who are UT Health San Antonio Alumni. We enjoyed this novel experience and are eagerly anticipating more opportunities like this,” Kim said.
Liliana Espinoza is a graduate student in the Neuroscience discipline of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program. The “Beyond The Bench” series features articles written by students and postdoctoral fellows at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.