SACNAS Meeting 2015

Hi all! This week we have a blog post from GS1, Jeremie Lever, about his experience at the SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos, Hispanics and Native Americans in Science) National Meeting this October. SACNAS has a prominent presence at UAB, involving a diverse array of students in professional development and community outreach. Read on to learn more about this smashing organization.

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The SACNAS national meeting was October 29-31, 2015 in Washington DC, and this was my first time attending. My friend Natasha told me I wouldn’t attend a conference like SACNAS anywhere else, and I found that to be true throughout. The energy was much greater than what I have experienced elsewhere (plenary speakers were introduced to the tune of Top 40), and central themes included networking, encouragement, camaraderie, and diversity.

The orientation for travel scholarship recipients was full of undergraduate and graduate students representing institutions from across the country, hailed from diverse backgrounds. An inspiring speaker told us we were the future of science, technology, engineering, and math in the country and the world. I agreed and could not help but feel very optimistic for the future. The central mission of SACNAS and their annual meeting is incredibly important: to increase diversity in STEM fields in the United States.

The widening of ethnicities and perspectives in our profession will allow us to learn from each other, promote social advancement for those from disadvantaged populations, encourage increasing diversity in all professional climates in the US, and therefore bolster our collective success. Importantly, sponsors of the conference—including the NSA, CIA and academic institutions—were interested in recruiting a new generation of diverse individuals to lead our progress into the 21st century.

Simply providing opportunity, they emphasized, to people from all backgrounds will increase diversity among the professional ranks in our country. This will allow for meaningful advances by providing a source of new ideas and perspectives. It is important that young science professionals 1) serve as role models for people considering our career and 2) encourage those who are underrepresented to take on the challenge with courage and enthusiasm. Diversity among physicians will allow growth of cultural competence, which will aid in reaching our ultimate goal: to improve patient care. The broader impact of an organization like SACNAS is to support a policy of inclusion and confront prejudice and racism in our country. The leadership and vision of SACNAS is tremendous and will continue to promote a bright future for STEM fields in the US.

-Jeremie Lever, GS1

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