After an eventful five days, Hawai‘i welcomed back over 50 members of the ‘Ilima SACNAS Chapter at the University of Hawai‘i from the 2013 Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) National Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The event was a consortium of student and professional research presentations in numerous Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Keynote presentations included Nobel laureates and other highlyregarded scientists.Hundreds of graduate school programs and industry employers from across the country came to recruit top prospects in the SACNAS community of 3,500 attendees.
The ‘Ilima Chapter brought Aloha to the conference by offering an ‘oli and cultural gift to conference organizers during a chapter inception ceremony. Chapter members returned home successfully with three presentation awards; Kaho Tisthammer (Marine Biology PhD student, UH Mānoa), Kaile Costa (Marine Biology major, KCC) and Motusaga Vaeoso (Biology Major, Chaminade University of Honolulu).
The SACNAS conference offers opportunities to network and develop leadership and professional skills for students and professionals alike.The conference provided the environment for first generation disadvantaged students in higher education to raise sprits and reinforce high goals and standards.Cell and Molecular Biology PhD student, Narrissa Spies stated, "[The SACNAS conference] is an excellent opportunity to network with other scientists who know what it feels like to be the first."Chapter Advisor and former national board member, Dr. Healani Chang is enthusiastic for the future of ‘Ilima and SACNAS stating that the conference has, "Grown in size and sponsorship. University STEM programs and private industry are recognizing the high quality posters and orals which, [over the years] has reached a new standard."Dr. Maile Goo, Principal Investigator of the UH Mānoa SEED program states, "[The conference] creates an absolute sense of student awareness in raising self-confidence and self-mastery."She goes on to say, "[It's] a one-stop-shop for finding out everything you need to know about grad school.You don't go to them, they come to you.The goal is the highest degree possible."
Following a great experience at the national conference, there is a bright future for minority STEM students in Hawai‘i and the ‘Ilima Chapter. Chapter President and marine biology PhD student Austin Shelton shared that "SACNAS is a welcoming place for Pacific Island students to share their research and find career resources at the national level. It’s amazing that even Nobel Prize winners stop to listen to your science presentations."Dr. Chang is confident in the new chapter due to its quick and exponential growth, "It becomes infectious."The Hawai‘i community can look forward to another great organization and the coming future of Pacific Island scientists.
Written by Domenick Barbo, ‘Ilima SACNAS Media Committee