Florida A&M University Graduate student Sherita Ingram is one of 15 women of color to return to the classroom with less struggle and more confidence after FAMU’s week-long Research Boot Camp for STEM Scholars.
“I was super nervous,” said Ingram, a Ph.D. in risk and policy management. candidate for the FAMU. “We had an assignment where we had to present on the topic of our dissertations, and I changed my topic less than a month ago.”
After going through a camp filled with motivation and mentorship, Ingram now has the confidence she’s been searching for to move forward in the STEM field, where few people like her are represented.
“I am ready to be authentically me, show myself and be confident in who I am with everything I have learned instead of hiding or doubting my skills and abilities,” Ingram said.
Other news from Florida A&M University:
This was FAMU’s second year hosting Research Boot Camps, which they offer three times a year to work with STEM scholars in Florida who are Black, Hispanic, Native American, or other women of color.
The most recent camp, which ended last week, was funded by the National Science Foundation. FAMU is the lead university for NSF’s Florida Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), whose goal is to develop a more diverse research workforce.
The purpose of the research camp was to identify women of color in the STEM field and support them from early thesis to early career, as well as postdoctoral fellowships, through mentorships.
Participants were chosen after going through an application process that included writing essays and stating their goals by the end of boot camp.
While FAMU maintains its Carnegie R2 (high research activity) designation for the third year in a row, the boot camp is one of the factors that may contribute to its goal of R1 status, which would increase FAMU’s level of funding and research. University. production.
Underrepresented STEM scholars ‘not alone’
According to the NSF, at the top 50 research universities in the US, women of color hold less than 2% of tenured or tenured faculty positions.
The participant Jessica Saintibert, who is a doctor in epidemiology and biostatistics. candidate at FAMU, shared what it meant to her to have mentors she could look up to while at camp.
“Seeing other STEM scholars gives us a sense of knowing that we are not alone,” Saintibert said. “There are other people who are like us and understand our struggle, and we are not alone.”
The four mentors in the program were former Florida Memorial University Vice Chancellor for Research Adrienne Cooper, Florida State University College of Nursing Associate Professor Sabrina Dickey, Florida International University Biology Professor Lidia Kos and FAMU Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy Marcia Allen Owens.
“If we don’t have women of color in the classroom as faculty in our universities, we can’t grow women of color in these fields,” said FAMU College of Education Dean Allyson Watson.
Watson is also the principal investigator for AGEP Pathways Alliance, which is an association of universities, including FAMU, with the goal of increasing the number of minority women teachers in the STEM field. The other universities in the alliance are Bethune Cookman University, Florida Memorial University, Florida International University and the University of South Florida.
“This work is very intentional,” Watson said. “We know that it’s not every day that women of color are able to come together in a small setting and get one-on-one mentoring attention or highlights, key points and clues on how to be successful in their specific area.”
Tamara Bertrand Jones, an associate professor of higher education at FSU, was the host consultant for the boot camp. She is one of the founders of academy sistersan organization that creates an educational network of black women in higher education.
Jones reflected on what it was like to be able to work with the participants during the research camp.
“Watching lightbulbs go off or seeing them make connections about something we’ve talked about reminds me of the importance of this work, and it reminds me even more that these kinds of spaces are necessary for minority groups,” Jones said.
“There is something that culturally validates having a space for all women of color,” Jones added, “and the proof will be in the future success of these women.”
Contact Tarah Jean at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @tarahjean_.
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