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SACNAS Chapter:  Building a Community

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Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Sciences

Author: Katherine Hinchee-Rodriguez | Category: Around Campus | July 21, 2014


Often in science, we ask, “What is a gap that needs to be addressed, and how can I fill it once I recognize it?” One enterprising UTHSCSA graduate student did just that when she realized that there were no student Hispanic student organizations that encompassed all the UTHSCSA programs. Sarah Junco, a 4th year PhD-candidate in the Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics discipline, recognized this gap, and founded the first UTHSCSA chapter for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in the Sciences (SACNAS) in the Fall of 2012 with the aid of Dr. Nicquet Blake, Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Recruitment. SACNAS is a renowned national society of individuals dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists- from college students to professionals- to attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in the sciences. The all-inclusive UTHSCSA SACNAS chapter began as an idea for the development of an environment where trainees could support one another and give back to the San Antonio community, while further enhancing public understanding and appreciation of underrepresented minorities in the sciences.

Personal, Professional, and Career Development 

The UTHSCSA SACNAS chapter has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to help its members, as well as the UTHSCSA community at large, in their development. In collaboration with TUGGS (T-MOB, UP, GSA, GSBS, SACNAS), the chapter hosts various seminars and workshops open to all trainees, which have included: 

• Transitioning from Predoc to Postdoc 

• Dealing with Stress as a Trainee 

• GraphPad Prism Tutorial 

• Formatting Your CV. 

Additionally, the chapter maintains a strong online presence through its Facebook page where opportunities, articles of interest, and member achievements are highlighted weekly. While the chapter does note those pertinent to underrepresented minorities, anyone interested in the state of higher-level education in the sciences will appreciate the chapter’s focus on alternative careers, fellowships, and general tips on surviving life as a researcher. The UTHSCSA SACNAS chapter also provides many leadership opportunities for trainees, which includes a council of chapter officers, who are currently: 

  • President: Cathy Samayoa 
  • Vice President: Kathryn Hinchee-Rodriguez 
  • Treasurer: Andrew Robles 
  • Secretary: Sena Rayos 
  • Historian: Alicia Avelar

  • Public Relations: Alison Clark
  • National Liaison:  Amanda Munoz

Beyond officer positions, chapter members lead sub-committees dedicated to various endeavors, such as organizing a community outreach or fundraising event or even giving a workshop to other members. These opportunities not only help support the UTHSCSA community and the goals of the chapter, but improve an individual’s leadership skills.

There are several outreach activities that the UTHSCSA SACNAS chapter participates in yearly, which include the Core for STEM and Science Expo in the fall, and the various Science Fairs throughout the year. Additionally, the chapter has hosted a Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration every October since its birth which includes free food, music and dance lessons. The success of the UTHSCSA SACNAS chapter’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration has improved the organization’s profile on campus, and so improved their fundraising efforts. The chapter holds at least four fundraising events each year and, given their success, has been able to establish a travel award to help support trainees at UTHSCSA. The 2015 Travel Award is $1,000, and open to application by active members with a deadline in December 2014. This award has only been made possible by the hard work of current and past members, and their dedication to improving opportunities for those at UTHSCSA and the San Antonio community.

UTHSCSA SACNAS chapter general meetings are held once a month on a Tuesday from 5:30-6:30pm in the STRF building. Attendees discuss fundraising opportunities, plan for upcoming events, and provide support and mentorship to members. Everyone is welcome to come participate!

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