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Anselma Bautista posing with ABRCMS sign

STEM students and faculty attend biomedical conference

With support from the Universal Design for Equity and Accountability in Learning (UDEAL) grant, three YVC STEM students and two faculty members recently traveled to Anaheim, Calif. to participate in the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS).

Students Biba Sarr, Alondra Vaca and Anselma Bautista were joined by faculty Claire Carpenter and Panyada Sullivan for the four-day event. First held in 2001, ABRCMS was founded to encourage minority, first-generation, veteran and disabled students to pursue higher education programs in STEM areas of study. Today, ABRCMS is one of the largest professional conferences for underrepresented scientists at various stages of their professional and educational journeys — providing additional programming for graduate and postdoctoral students along with non-students.

The conference includes more than 2,000 poster and oral presentations given by undergraduate and post baccalaureate students, scientific and professional development sessions, exhibit booths, networking and mentoring opportunities, plenary speakers and an awards banquet.

Students Biba Sarr, Alondra Vaca and Anselma Bautista
From left: YVC Students Biba Sarr, Anselma Bautista and Alondra Vaca during the ABRCMS conference.

“The largest takeaway from attending this conference has shown me that I am capable. I am a scientist and belong to the STEM community.” — Anselma Bautista, student

For student Anselma Bautista, attending the conference as an undergraduate woman of color made an invaluable impact.

“It was empowering to be welcomed into this community and refreshing to walk into a room surrounded with students experiencing similar educational journeys,” says Bautista. “Listening to Mae C. Jemison, the first woman of color in the world to go into space, was incredible, along with speakers Maria Elena Bottazzi, Olajide Williams, and Noble-winning chemist Carolyn Bertozzi.”

The experience also allowed Bautista to build on her foundation of professional development skills and network with students, speakers, presenters and exhibitors — something she feels will help open more doors for her future.

YVC Student Biba Sarr talks with Olajide Williams from Columbia University during the ABRCMAS conference.

“The largest takeaway from attending this conference has shown me that I am capable. I am a scientist and belong to the STEM community,” she continued.

For Alondra Vaca feeling welcome and represented as a scientist, as a woman and as a future doctor helped her overcome some of her fears as a first-generation student.

“For me, representation is such a vital part of my success and works towards dismantling my imposter syndrome,” said Vaca, who is completing the final steps of her undergraduate work before applying to medical school.

“The ABRCMS has played a catalyst role in this, it was such an amazing experience and exposed me to many opportunities that are available for me to achieve these goals,” she said. “I got to meet and connect with students from my dream schools. It was such an inspiration and a motivation boost to see people that come from similar backgrounds as me and had made it.”

YVC faculty Claire Carpenter and Panyada Sullivan with student Biba Sarr.

Vaca feels that the experience at the conference is especially important for first-generation students.

“The people that we look up to for success are not usually people that are in our everyday lives and that can become discouraging from time to time,” said Vaca. “A conference like this, where students are surrounded by people in positions of success that look like us, that grew up like us, and are the first, it is truly empowering, and it helps make dreams into reality to see that it is possible, that we do belong, that we can make it.”

Learn more about academic opportunities through YVC’s STEM Pathway.

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