MiSciNet's campus representatives are the network's eyes and ears on campus. They do their part in expanding the pool from which tomorrow's minority scientists are drawn by helping their schoolmates take advantage of the resources available on the site. Students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups -- African-American, Native American, and Hispanic/Latino -- often have to deal with feelings of isolation and self-doubt when they enter college; peer mentoring is one of the most successful strategies -- many say it's vital -- to the healthy growth of the community of minority scientists.
Using their own words, MiSciNet is proud to feature a few of these extraordinary ambassadors of science.
Jennifer Hernandez: Before coming to Brooklyn College in 2004, I took science courses at New York City College of Technology and graduated with a 3.2 GPA. I am currently a sophomore at Brooklyn College and have risen to the challenges of a difficult course load. I attribute my academic success to the support of the faculty of the science department at Brooklyn College and the confidence they have placed in me. Moreover, being fully immersed in a research environment has allowed me to apply concepts and methodologies to the experiments that I perform in the laboratory.
Dillon Mitchell: I decided to pursue physical therapy after I completed months of volunteer work at One-on-One physical therapy located in Brooklyn, New York. As an African-American male, my goal is to be one of many Americans of color to make an impact in the lives of others through physical therapy. I hope to one day establish my own private practice specializing in orthopedic surgery and sports rehabilitation.
Clark Atlanta University
Rhondi Dotson: I am a junior biology major at Clark Atlanta University. My aspirations are to become a successful pediatrician at a well-accredited hospital and to one day have my own practice. I am also interested in research and would like to study cancer and birth defects.
I have met people who believe that as a minority I won't be successful as a science major, but I believe I can achieve anything I set my mind to and have just as much potential as the next person or non-minority. Such comments are actually encouraging because they motivate me to succeed.
Naira Rezende: I was born in Brazil and came to New York with the purpose of pursuing a biology degree. I enrolled in Hunter College and participated in several research projects during the summers. These experiences inspired me to pursue a career where I can teach and lead a lab as the principal investigator (PI). As a PI, I could make significant contributions to the scientific community while enjoying the interaction with students.
Montana State University-Bozeman
Lance "Bo" Spotted Elk: As a Native American -- Northern Cheyenne -- in electrical engineering, I am in a field with very few minorities, so I've taken advantage of several summer programs that allow me to network with other Native American students. One of these is the American Indians in Mathematics program at MSU. Until I participated in these summer programs, I was the only nerdy American Indian student I knew.
All of these summer programs were fun and worthwhile and participating made me proud of what I was doing and proud of the people with whom I was working. Most of my Native American peers, including myself, come from rural reservations that have their share of problems including poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, a substandard economic situation, and little or no opportunities in general. To witness the success of an individual Native student is great, but seeing a group of 20 Native students succeed is even greater.
A'Reta Tom: My name is A'Reta Jo Tom and my Lakota name is Wicahpi Ota Win (Many Star Woman). I am member of the Wakiya Kiza Tiospaye (Fights the Thunder Clan) from Thunder Butte, South Dakota, located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation. I have one daughter, Keisha, who is 10 years old. When she was born, I made the decision to return to school and continue pursuing an ultimate goal of mine which was to receive an engineering degree. I made this decision in an effort to set an example for my daughter and to one day return to Cheyenne River and make a positive impact within my community in the civil/construction engineering field.
In December 2004, I achieved my goal by receiving my Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Engineering Technology with a minor in Business Administration. Although the field of engineering is dominated by Caucasian males and has very few minorities present, especially women, I am proud to be the first Native American Woman to graduate from the MSU program. I am currently employed at MSU by Native Waters as a student researcher while working on my Masters of Construction Engineering Management.
North Carolina Central University
James Trice, III: I originally wanted to major in physical therapy or sports medicine, but after taking two years of these courses, I realized that entering the healthcare profession was not for me. I finalized my career decision after taking a marine biology course. It was one class I didn't miss, and I enjoyed every single minute. I found I truly loved the ocean and everything associated with it. I found my passion.
Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico
Marta González-Hernández: Both of my parents are high school chemistry teachers, so science has always been a part of my life. I applied to the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico because I heard it had an excellent College of Sciences. I became a chemistry major and volunteered in biomedical research laboratories. I started to learn many wonderful things regarding the study of life.
All this exposure to science-rich environments has encouraged me to eventually pursue a Ph.D. in the biomedical sciences. Because methodical laboratory preparations, the union of theory and practice, the tangible results of an experiment, and teaching all appeal to my disciplined and inquisitive nature, my long-term goals include balancing teaching and research in an academic setting.
Virginia Union University
Shane Rone: One of the greatest advantages I have found at Virginia Union University is that the size of the school allows the students to develop a personal relationship with their teachers and advisors. The small teacher to student ratio is perfect for fast-paced learning.
I have never been more focused on my goals, and I recognize that I can only achieve them by embracing my educational pursuits. As I look around at those that have turned back and those that are finding excuses to stop, I realize that I am still running. This is a race that I will and must win.
Robin Arnette is editor of MiSciNet and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.