When imagining what a career in STEM might look like for them, students must have examples to draw from of people who look like them. Gabriela Chavira, the program director of BUILD PODER, strives to give students that representation to inspire them. Once paired with a faculty member, students get a chance to do research in the field they are interested in, while closely watching a mentor in action. A group of students from Daniel Pearl Magnet High School's student paper, The Pearl Post, were able to document this experience.
Produced by Anthony Freyre, Maia Hito, and Ani Kocharyan at Van Nuys, CA. Instruction provided by SRL Connected Educator Adriana Chavira. Station support provided by Cameron Quon from PBS Southern California. Published by PBS Newshour Student Reporting Lab.
Transcript of the video featuring Dr. Gabriela Chavira, PI of BUILD PODER.
Dr. Gabriela Chavira: I am the director of the student training core and I’m one of the principal investigators of the program, so I am responsible for the training of the students, helping them pair with a faculty mentor who can help them think about research and do research in their area. I also do a lot of the professional development with the students helping them prepare for graduate studies and helping them think about what their careers could look like in the sciences.
The reason why we brought this grant is that we know that there are a lot of students, especially those who don’t come from communities where we see ourselves represented in the sciences. We wanted to send the message really clear that we belong in the sciences that a scientist could look like me and that they do look like us, there’s just not enough of us. And so we need to really increase the pipeline for our students.
It’s important to have all voices I think because the sciences are really about problem-solving and whether you’re trying to find a cure or trying to understand something better, trying to understand a complex problem, we need to have different voices, different ways of thinking. If there is only one way of thinking, right, if it’s only one cultural community that’s looking at the problem, then you’re not really going to address the issue, maybe you’re not going to solve the world’s problems, because you’re not getting the diverse views. And so by having a diverse representative of communities, you’re really getting all stakeholders as part of the decision-making and the scientific process.