(STEM)2’s Fall Research Symposium

The program for Strengthening Transfer Education & Matriculation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, also known as (STEM)2, held their second annual Fall Research Symposium last Friday along with special guest speaker Dr. Efrain Talamantes. The focus of the event was to provide students with information on the importance of having professionals from underrepresented minority backgrounds in the science and medical fields.

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The first half of the two-part event was a lecture from Dr. Efrain Talamantes, an Internal Medicine physician from UCLA, who also spoke at last year’s symposium. Dr. Talamantes spoke at length about his experiences growing up as a first-generation immigrant and the perspective it gave him as a medical professional.

“One of the things that I like to share is my story of how I came from an immigrant background and I’m the first in my family to get a higher education, and it was programs like STEM that kept me on the right path,” he said.

He explained that the medical field needs more people from diverse backgrounds who can better understand and attend to the needs of non-English speakers and people from low-income households, and that programs such as STEM are necessary to make this a reality.

To further illustrate his point, he put together a demonstration using students from the audience. He had one student who was fluent in Spanish act as a patient, another student with limited Spanish skills as a translator, and a third student with no Spanish skills acting as a doctor. The “patient” would explain her symptoms, and the translator would attempt to relay the information to the doctor.

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The second half of the seminar was a panel with a group of students who attended summer research programs at various universities such as CSU Fullerton, UC Irvine, and the University of Massachusetts. Each panelist gave a short summary of their research project and shared some of the experiences they had while living on a university campus. They answered questions from the audience about whether or not they’d want to continue pursuing an education in the fields they researched and if they’d be interested in attending the universities where they studied.

After the panel, Dr. Talamantes returned to answer a few audience questions and concluded the seminar.

“I feel like Dr. Talamantes answered questions in a way that motivated us to not give up,” said 22-year old Mechanical Engineering major Isaac Cisneros. “There are a lot of students in community college that struggle to get their footing, but he told us that no matter how long it takes, you’ll get there eventually.”

Johanna Baez, a 21-year old Biochemistry major, found the event “inspiring and motivating.”

“We’re all science majors and sometimes that’s hard enough already, but these things always uplift us,” she said. Having these workshops and listening to guest speakers, I feel like they’re more uplifting than anything.”

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