By Analisa Garza
I can remember being an incoming freshman; the college campus was a different world to me. I felt lost and alone, the instructors seemed intimidating and I had no idea where to begin. The first few years were rough waters and without strong ties to classmates and professors in my field of study I quickly began to sink academically. Reflecting a few years later after having successfully obtained my master’s degree in Biology from Texas A&M International University, I realized that the tides turned when I took a position as a student worker in a STEM office.
Working in the Biology and Chemistry department gave me (more like forced me) to have close connections with STEM professors and classmates. Having these connections was one of the driving forces that helped me commit myself to being a serious scholar. I was surrounded by people that knew how to navigate the waters I was unfamiliar with, and I didn’t want to disappoint the people I saw daily. Also, I quickly came to realize that my instructors were easier to talk to than I had anticipated and that each one of them sincerely cared about my success. Over the course of several years these professors connected me with other STEM students, taught me how to do original literature and laboratory research, helped me successfully receive scholarships that paid for my entire graduate program, and gave me the opportunity to instruct lower-level undergraduate courses. They helped me get my first job as a high school science teacher and hired me as adjunct faculty when I graduated with my master’s degree. The support and direction they gave me helped me go from a mediocre student to an A+ Scholar and I will be forever grateful.
With this in mind, I am so excited and privileged to be the new Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) Center Coordinator. I know the impact the MESA Center will have on student success by connecting SAC students to their STEM classmates, professors, and community partners in their field. The MESA Center is a great place to connect with likeminded students pursuing degrees in the STEM areas and STEM affiliated student organizations. It can also help by introducing you to STEM faculty and counselors that will help you navigate the waters of higher education, and help you find the extra help you need to become successful in the courses you are finding most difficult. Having these connections will also help you find and secure the internship and research opportunities you want (Did you read Isabelle’s blog about her internship this summer at NASA). These opportunities will help to ensure your scholastic success and equip you for your future career.
If you are a STEM student, or even just thinking about going into a STEM field, drop by the MESA Center. It is located in the Chance Academic Center, Room 204. I’d be happy to show you around the center, give you more information about the resources the Center has to offer and introduce you to some of the students that hang out here. You can also learn more about the MESA Center and download a membership application from our website, or keep track of all the cool things we’re doing by liking us on Facebook and following us on twitter. The MESA Center is a boat that knows how to navigate rough waters, so hop on! It’s more fun when your travel with friends!
The first Adelante Tejas STEM-ulate: Science Showcase will be Wednesday, Sept. 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Professors and students will present experiments in the Loftin Student Center Mall as part of the Organization Showcase of on-campus clubs.
For more info about MESA, visit Alamo.edu/sac/MESA or find them on facebook: MESAatSAC.