Texas Tech University

SACNAS Chapter Receives National Award for Community Outreach

Amanda Castro-Crist

October 26, 2016

The organization promotes the success of Chicanos, Hispanics and Native Americans in science, technology, engineering and math.

The Texas Tech University chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) was recognized this month at the organization's annual National Diversity in STEM Conference in Long Beach, California.

One of 115 student chapters across the country, the Texas Tech chapter received the Outstanding Community Outreach award for its efforts during the 2015-16 school year.

“The SACNAS chapter leaders have worked hard to serve their fellow STEM students here at Texas Tech and reach out to community college students at South Plains College,” said SACNAS faculty adviser Jaclyn Cañas-Carrell. “They are highly deserving of this award. I am proud to be associated with this great student organization and hope more students will join.”

It is the sixth consecutive year the chapter has received recognition at the national conference. Past awards include three professional development role model awards, one chapter sustainability award, one for contributions to the SACNAS mission in student recruitment and faculty involvement and last year's Outstanding Chapter of the Year award.

“As always, we strive to set and reach new milestones,” said Christopher Ponce, 2015-16 chapter president. “This year, we hope to receive an award in a new category and will be expanding our focus to hopefully continue our success streak.”

SACNAS is the largest multicultural and multidisciplinary science, technology, engineering and math diversity organization in the country. The inclusive organization is dedicated to fostering the success of Chicanos, Hispanics and Native Americans in obtaining advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership in STEM fields.

“SACNAS is doing its part in developing future scientists who will lead the way towards new and innovative research,” Ponce said.

The community outreach award was based on activities and efforts by chapter members that showed collaboration with other groups and organizations, participation and networking, a community service impact and a reflection of the SACNAS mission. Projects included everything from handing out free Jimmy John's sandwiches to students studying in the library to assisting with summer learning camps for Lubbock children at Texas Tech.

“The chapter focused on reaching out to our community with the hope of encouraging kids, high school students and adults to invest some of their time learning about STEM fields,” Ponce said.

Through their work with UpwardBound, a program that prepares first-generation high school students for college, SACNAS members were able to act as mentors and tutors and encourage the students to continue towards the goal of higher education.

“Our SACNAS chapter is an important part of the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities because we provide underrepresented minorities opportunities to excel in STEM related fields,” said current chapter president Samantha Soto. “By providing resources to these students, we will be able to increase the development of minorities in professional fields.”

Other events included outreach campaigns at the South Plains Regional Science and Engineering Fair in February, the on-campus Native American Celebration in April, the Community College STEM Day and the Plains Bridges to Baccalaureate Program. Chapter members also participated in the César E. Chávez March and Celebration, the Burkhart Walk for Autism Awareness, the Cinco de Mayo Parade, Arbor Day and the Lions Club Pancake Festival.

Volunteering at the Vamos a Pescar, Let's Go Fishing community event allowed chapter members to interact with children at the event held annually at Buddy Holly Lake. Members also participated in the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research Parents' Night Out, which gave parents of autistic children a night of free time and relaxation.

“SACNAS is a very important part of the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities because it is a chapter that consists of dedicated, hardworking, passionate, caring and inspiring undergraduate and graduate researchers from across the country, each with their own story and background,” Ponce said. “Being recognized at the national level strengthens our mission and efforts to shine interest in STEM education and research.”

For more information about 2016 SACNAS National Diversity in STEM Conference, visit the website.

For more information about the Texas Tech SACNAS chapter, visit their website

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