UC CAMP offers guidance and success for minorities in STEM

Courtesy of UC Camp

When Hannah Navarette came to UCR as a first-year, she knew that she wanted to pursue research. With the help of faculty, she was able to find out about the UC Campus Alliance for Minority Participation (CAMP). “There is kind of a culture on campus, and this isn’t unique to UCR, that faculty members and mentors don’t know how to mentor undergraduates from a diverse population,” said Navarette.

Now a fourth-year biology major, president of CAMP and finishing the process of graduate school applications, she had found mentors to turn to during the stressful application process thanks to the support she received from the organization. “By participating in CAMP and eventually serving in leadership roles, I have found within me a motivation to help other people and particularly within research within science,” said Navarette.

CAMP is part of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation grant and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). CAMP’s goal is to support students from underrepresented minorities in STEM fields to participate in research and apply to postgraduate programs.

Among the resources CAMP provides are research opportunities, stipends for research, faculty mixers, professional development mentorship and opportunities to present research at the CAMP statewide symposium, among others. Currently, there are 20 students in the program.

“The grant itself provides a variety of resources to students, and those resources really are something that you just don’t get in the regular classroom. (CAMP) is designed to get students to engage more in undergraduate experiences,” explained Dr. Thomas Dickson, assistant vice provost of Undergraduate Education.

General meetings are open for anyone to attend. However, stipends to fund research are limited to the students that meet the criteria as listed by NSF of being in the STEM field and identifying as an underrepresented minority as listed in CAMP’s UCR website. This includes students with “Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, or Non-Filipino-Pacific Islander ethnic backgrounds reported at UCR at the time of admission.”

All nine UC campuses with the exception of UC San Francisco have a CAMP cohort.

Previously, UC Irvine had been the seat of CAMP but due to paperwork, UCR applied for the grant renewal and became the lead campus. Along with the responsibilities of being lead campus, UCR will host the CAMP statewide symposium in February 2020, where CAMP members from other UC’s will come to present their research.

UCR’s CAMP cohort has been successful compared to other UCs in the number of undergraduates applying to graduate school and participating in research symposiums. At the last CAMP symposium at UCI, 10 UCR students won awards out of the 12 members that presented, which was more than the second highest awards won by another campus at six students. Student Engagement Assistant Larry Rodriguez, highlighted former CAMP member Rosa McGuire, who received an NSF graduate research fellowship and an award from SACNAS among others during her time presenting research as an undergraduate.

Dr. Richard Cardullo had been the faculty mentor for UCR’s CAMP for 27 years. Now the position of faculty mentor will be transitioned to UCR Medical School faculty member Dr. Brandon Brown, a former CAMP participant during his undergraduate years at UCI.

As Student Engagement Assistant, Rodriguez provides staff support to CAMP as well as reporting information on the rates of CAMP members applying to graduate school. Rodriguez has seen the resources and impact CAMP makes in students.

“When (CAMP members) become officers, they take the initiative and look for programs earlier  and more than anyone else. They’re seeing these opportunities early. When you put yourself in this group and when you present at a statewide symposium, the prestige of that gives you confidence that you are worthy of being able to do a graduate program,” said Rodriguez.

To join or learn more about CAMP, students can attend the general meetings which take place every other Thursday from 5-6 p.m. in the Rivera Teaching and Learning Center. They can also be reached through Highlanderlink at Campus Alliance for Minority Participation.

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