Feb 192007
Authors: Anica Wong

CSU is the first university in Colorado to institute a chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, (SACNAS.)

The group has been in the works for the past year and received its official charter on Feb. 1, when SACNAS hosted an open house announcing its plans for the group.

“This is an organization for anyone who is interested in helping and promoting underrepresented groups in science,” said Michelle Przybyski, a senior biology and psychology double major and president of the club.

Group members hope to get students involved in developing professional skills as well as provide them with research opportunities and internships that may lead to future jobs.

“We want to get students together and build a community,” Przybyski said.

Along with providing opportunities, the group is also focused on allowing students to connect with peers in their respective fields. This is especially true at the SACNAS National Conference, which is held every year.

Brandon Bader, a junior biochemistry major and the organization’s treasurer, went to the conference in 2005.

“It has a lot to do with having the opportunity to network with faculty in the natural sciences and with people nationally,” Bader said of the conference’s objective, as well as that of the local group.

Another main goal of the group is to provide a faculty mentor for members.

“We really hope that professors will tap into students,” Przybyski said.

Arlene Nededog, one of two advisers of SACNAS as well as the director of Undergraduate Retention Programs for the College of Natural Sciences, said that starting this group is not only exciting because the students are becoming involved, but also because it’s attracting faculty.

“There is an interest by students to participate and an interest by faculty to participate,” she said.

Nededog is joined by Christina Paguyo, the coordinator of the College of Natural Sciences’ Students as Leaders in Science program, as advisers for SACNAS.

“The group is full of people with different goals, loves, experiences and qualities, but it still offers the friendship and mentorship that the national body does,” Daniel Owens, a member of SACNAS and senior computer science major, said.

Owens is involved in the program because of his unique heritage. He is Mestizo, which is a mixed racial ancestry, usually one of European and Native American ancestry. Although there are only approximately five million Native Americans and Mestizos in the United States, Owens values the support that he receives from people with a similar background who are involved in the sciences.

“It is nice to see so many, to talk with them, and to see how they are doing in a field (computer science) that is new to the Native culture,” Owens said.

The group has been having regular monthly meetings since last spring, even though they only became the 26th official chapter of SACNAS less than a month ago. Already there are approximately 15 dedicated members, including an executive board.

“The group provides a strong support system to science students,” Przybyski said. “We want to focus on not being exclusive.”

– For more information about the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, please contact Michelle Przybyski at mpryzy@lamar.colostate.edu.

Staff writer Anica Wong can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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