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Awards / Honors

CSU SACNAS accepts group's sixth Role Model Chapter of the Year Award

November 15, 2012
by Rachel Griess

CSU's SACNAS chapter won the award for Role Model Chapter of the Year at the SACNAS National Conference in October - the sixth consecutive year the chapter has received an honor for its support and advancement of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists.

CSU journalism senior Rachel Griess spoke with the chapter’s director, Arlene Nededog, and president, JiHye Chun, about the chapter’s success and impact on students.

What is SACNAS, and why the focus on science?

Nededog: SACNAS is the society of scientists focused on the advancement of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American student and professional scientists. Historically, there hadn’t been an organization or group to advance these individuals; so, the focus on this demographic can target and improve their underrepresentation in the professional realm. 

Chun: SACNAS fosters the success of scientists—from college students to professionals—to attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science. The CSU chapter provides students with a really good opportunity to work with your peers, network, and gain opportunities to advance themselves in the sciences.

How do you become an award-winning SACNAS chapter, receiving the SACNAS Outstanding Native American Member Outreach Role Model Award?

Chun: The focus is primarily on qualitative analysis and retention of each chapter. I was responsible for putting together an annual report and submitting it for review. They really look at what students gain from our workshops and social events. The award is given to the chapter whose report shows the best member growth and retention.

How many times has the CSU chapter won this award?

Nededog: We have won different variations of the Role Model Award five times and have one award for the overall Chapter of the Year.
How big is the CSU chapter?

Chun: There are around 25 undergrads in the CSU SACNAS chapter and three graduate student SACNAS Mentors. We get a lot of support, and the mentoring and advising helps us carry out our goals.

Nededog: We also have 12 faculty and advisory board members that participate in activities and workshops, assist with networking, and provide academic and moral support for the students.

Arlene NededogArlene, we would like to congratulate you on your Distinguished Service to the Society Award. Could you tell us what made you want to work as a mentor for students?

Nededog: The CSU SACNAS chapter was founded in February 2006 after a colleague of mine was exposed to the group at a conference. We immediately brought the idea to the students and asked them if it was something they would be interested in. I just like to mentor students. My goal with this group is to empower students to become leaders in the sciences. It takes many things to create this empowerment, and mentoring is a strong component of that. Then, you create the domino effect: I mentor students who, in turn, mentor younger students, and as they get older, they mentor other students. Each student is not only dependent on the academic and moral support they can get from me and others on the faculty board, but their ability to help each other be successful.

Can you share some of the success stories from former students in this program?

Nededog: Success, to me, is seeing students take advantage of the opportunities they have to grow academically and professionally. I’ve seen students graduate with undergraduate degrees in the sciences, and then go on to graduate schools. I’ve seen students graduate grad school and start their professional careers. I have even begun to see students leave and contribute to, or even create, SACNAS chapters at other schools. The success of the chapter is because of the team’s ability to work effectively and efficiently to achieve goals. Our students are constantly evaluating what has been done and envisioning what they can do next.

How do students get involved in SACNAS?

Nededog: We hold a general meeting at the beginning of the semester and provide workshops, fundraising events, and social events to attract students into joining. Our key strategy recruitment is to personally recruit each member.

Chun: I was approached and invited to join SACNAS by the former president while in one of my chemistry labs.

Nededog: Undergraduate Research and Creativity (CURC) is instrumental in our recruitment of students. The program assists us in targeting and reaching out to students. 

JiHye, what is your major and year in school?

Chun: Chemistry with a biomedical science minor.

And what are your aspirations after graduation?

Chun: I’m looking for a master’s program in pathology. I’m very interested in tropical medicine and going to medical school. If the school I go to doesn’t have a SACNAS program, I think, if I could do it, I would probably try and start one.

What is the role of the president in the chapter?

Chun: The president is formally elected by the students in the group. I have the responsibility of guiding, supporting, recruiting, and maintaining retention of students. The other officers and I pay close attention to our goals and create programs and workshops to meet them. This year, I implemented a mentoring program for the students. My vision was to incorporate more participation from faculty and graduate students into the program. Through this program, students can meet with professional staff and grad students to find out what it means to be a professional. These meetings create sort of a family atmosphere amongst the group and a strong support system for each student.

Read more about SACNAS.

Contact: Emily Wilmsen
Phone: (970) 491-2336