Roberto C. Segura
Robert is an Advocate
My personal method of seeing life came from an advisor I had while I was a community college student at Skyline College. I was struggling to maintain my GPA, and I felt like I wasn’t working hard enough because of all my other commitments different from my coursework. My advisor told me that education is like an Olympic swimming race; the contestants keep their heads down, but they keep working at the task at hand until they hit the finish line. Since hearing that, I have used that train of thought to propel myself through the struggles I’ve faced since then. I acknowledge that things are going to be rough, but if I keep at it, I will prevail.
The most important part of accelerating the development of science is the inclusion of new and diverse mindsets. These mindsets can come from many different sources, and first-generation college students are an abundant source of fresh minds. Plus, a recent 2017 study showed that nearly a quarter of students pursuing higher education identify as first-generation students, and the needs of these students must be met. These are students that have no prior knowledge about navigating the education system; in my case, I became the beacon that younger siblings and cousins would follow as they pursue their educations. By supporting these torch bearers, we can ensure that future generations of students will also encounter successful academic careers.
Science is one of the few truths that exist in this world, it is one of the few things that can be quantified in concrete values. Inherently, numbers will not lie to you unless they are forced to; this is why the integrity of science must be advocated for and protected. Along with this, science is the path that brings society to higher levels because it is the source of health and technological advancements. In essence, supporting science is supporting the future of our society.
An issue that many first-generation students in science face are the ominous “filter classes” that are perceived as methods to weed out the students that are “unfit” for STEM careers. The classic example of this is the calculus I class that many students take in their first semesters as STEM majors. I recall having self-doubt upon the completion of those classes. To address this issue, I became a supplemental instructor in mathematics and chemistry to facilitate the successes of other students going through those classes. Over the course of my three years at community college, two and a half of them were committed to being a source of support for students going through difficult courses. Coming out of that experience, I occasionally run into students that I had supported in class, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment to have had a positive impact on the experiences of other students. Presently, I advocate for the inclusion of undergraduate minority students in science, and I help bring students to the lab setting by introducing them to the NIH Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program.
Roberto C. Segura