SACNAS Advancing Science and Students

Luis Badillo, Writer

SACNAS winners

Andrew and Will

All photos Courtesy of the Student Center for Science Engagement

The NEIU chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans (SACNAS) is working hard to unite and promote collaboration between students of science, math and technology. SACNAS was founded in 1973 to support the efforts of people of both Hispanic and indigenous decent achieve more in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. These days, SACNAS welcomes members of all ethnicities. But their mission to aid students of STEM majors remains the same.

What the NEIU chapter of SACNAS hopes to accomplish is to “bring science to the forefront,” according to Dr. Joseph Hibdon, who works with the Student Center for Science Engagement, located in Bernard J. Brommel Hall (BBH) 214. Hibdon  is focusing on trying to establish a sense of community for the STEM majors of Northeastern “A lot of the students come here, take classes and leave,” he said. That commuter college nature works against the most students who are trying to find like-minded folk to interact with. As an entirely student-run organization, SACNAS hopes to bring together the school’s STEM majors in an effort to promote the visibility of the math and sciences as well as engagement in those subjects throughout the campus.

With that in mind, SACNAS is looking to achieve this haven for student scientists in several ways. SACNAS is seeking professionals who are working in the STEM fields to come and speak to the members of the organization to provide insight as to the trail one might follow to have a successful career as an engineer, research scientist, mathematician or any possible trade a STEM major may try after graduation. SACNAS is a nationally recognized organization; the NEIU chapter of SACNAS will contact and collaborate with the SACNAS chapters of other Chicagoland Universities. The NEIU chapter and the DePaul chapter were able to network over in a gathering of young scientists and pizza. SACNAS will also be visible throughout campus through any number of volunteer capacities.

The NEIU campus isn’t the only place that SACNAS is making waves. The annual SACNAS National Conference is held every year to gather students and have a majority of them present research projects they have participated in as well as interact with fellow student scientists from across the country. Every year since 2009, NEIU has walked away from the conference with an award if not multiple awards. During this year’s conference NEIU was represented by 49 students, 22 of which were presenters. The conference hosted over 1,300 presenters. Other schools from Illinois included Northwestern University, DePaul University, Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Chicago, and University of Chicago. NEIU won three poster awards due to the work of students Dayvis Blasini, William Freyman, Kevin Gallagher and were the only undergraduates in Illinois to win awards. All these are of great benefit to any STEM major attending NEIU but Hibdon says that there is one aspect of SACNAS that trumps them all.”The biggest thing and the nicest thing about SACNAS is the development of a network and also having mentors. That’s really important,” said Hibdon.  Many of the more senior members of SACNAS have past experience in working in research. “They’re there to help” he said, pointing out the value of connecting these more experienced students with ones that are barely starting out.

The next SACNAS meeting will be on November 13th, and will be hosted in BBH. For more information, visit the Student Center for science Engagement located in room 235 in the BBH. All students majoring in any science, math, or technology degree are encouraged to come out and see what opportunities may find them there.