All students allowed to participate in McNair Research Symposium

Ashley Hurtado

Sacramento State students are taking advantage of research opportunities created by the 2014 McNair Scholars symposium.

The organization, for the first time since its creation, invited all students to present research projects at the conference.  

The symposium was created three years ago to give McNair students a way to show their work to the campus community and prepare for future presentations.

The McNair Scholars program helps first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds, who are underrepresented at a graduate level to pursue post-baccalaureate education.

Students in the program present projects at various conferences throughout the state and the symposium is the first of these events.

McNair Scholars Program Administrative Coordinator Erika Mendoza said they decided to open the symposium to all students, giving an opportunity to showcase their work in a formal setting.  

“Although the symposium is not a professional conference, we are trying to set up an event that has the same attributes: you are surrounded by peers and mentors, it is an academic setting and it is open to the public,” Mendoza said.

The symposium serves students by creating a safe and comfortable environment in which peers, mentors and other members of the community can acknowledge, praise and criticize their research.

Mendoza said students who participate in this event gain a better understanding of graduate level research.  

Student Assistant Karina Hurtado-Maldonado helps administrators with the planning of the symposium and students with their research projects.

She said having the symposium on campus is important because it gives students the opportunity to be recognized by members of the community.

“The symposium allows us as students to get out there and show our research, and the community gets to see that we exist, that we are out there doing our research and want to get our PhDs,” Hurtado-Maldonado said.

Only McNair scholars will be giving oral presentation since previous McNair scholars were the first to register and filleD all available spaces, Mendoza said.  

Students wanting to take part in the symposium can still do so with a poster presentation.

Student Assistant Theodore Harrison believes students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from attending the symposium.

“Students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds, seeing another student that comes from the same background up there presenting (and) doing research, gives them some sense of inspiration or motivation that this is possible,” Harrison said.

Anthropology major Guadalupe Ferreyra said the symposium has deeply impacted her life and opened her eyes to new possibilities.

“As a student coming from a background where my parents didn’t go to college, this expands my knowledge and my perspective about what I can do,” Ferreyra said.  “ (It reminds me) about the things I can be capable of.”

English major Rachel Huizar said presenting at the conference helped her self-esteem as an individual and scholar.  

“I never thought I would ever be giving an oral presentation, and it’s something really scary,” Huizar said. “But proving to myself and to other people that I can is very encouraging, especially as I consider grad school and PhD programs. It inspires me to work my way up to that.”

Harrison said the symposium also helps individuals from prosperous backgrounds gain a better understanding of those who come from less affluent families.

“It gives an opportunity to show that inclusion works,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter their background. As long as they are given the opportunity and the information, they can succeed. So this gives them a more informed view of people that come from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

The 2014 McNair Research Symposium will take place April 14 from 11:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Redwood room at the University Union.