The fall semester of 2016-2017 marked the third year of the WiSE Women of Color in STEM (WWoCS) program for undergraduate students.
The goals of the WWoCS program include fostering an increased sense of belonging, providing a supportive community that presents opportunities to give back to the community, building network connections with faculty, graduate students, and professional mentors, increasing career planning knowledge and skills, and overcoming the resulting challenges generated by implicit bias.
Meeting monthly, we achieved these goals through discussions on approaching faculty and staff, moving out of one’s comfort zone to achieve goals, pursuing research opportunities, practicing self-care, building a support network, responding to implicit bias and incivility, and navigating professional conferences. The final session consisted of reflections from the seniors on the strategies and resources that enabled them to persist to graduation.
Faculty Advisors, Michelle Blum (MAE) and Dawn Johnson (SOE) attended sessions each semester and engaged students about dealing with bias in the classroom, seeking research experience, and achieving work-life balance.
Graduate mentors Ariel Ash-Shakoor (BME) and Jessica Desalu (Psy) went above and beyond this year involving students in volunteer work, representing WiSE at public events, serving as panelists, and making themselves available to students. The graduate mentors play a vital role and serve as, in the words of one student, “a visual representation of what happens when you work hard. They are impressive.”
The impact of this program on its participants is summed up by a student,“I love how this program brings us all together to get a chance to build a community of support. It’s hard to find women of color in STEM so to have a space where all of us can be in the same space at the same time is great! ”
Thank you to Dean Ruhlandt of Arts and Sciences, and Rebecca Reed Kantrowitz, Interim Senior AVP of Student Experience, for supporting WWoCS program this year.