Three TJC students have been accepted for paid summer research fellowships through the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the overall goal of the LSAMP program is to assist universities and colleges in diversifying the nation’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce by increasing the number of STEM baccalaureate and graduate degrees awarded to populations historically underrepresented in these disciplines.
Jeannie Nghiem, a TJC biology and chemistry major from Tyler, has accepted a fellowship at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), a Division 1 research institution.
Martin Morales Alvarez, electrical engineering major from Tyler, and Marco Rodriguez, engineering major from Tyler, will both be participating in summer fellowships at UT Tyler.
The LSAMP program provides funding to alliances that implement comprehensive, evidence-based, innovative, and sustained strategies that ultimately result in the graduation of well-prepared, highly-qualified students from underrepresented minority groups who pursue graduate studies or careers in STEM.
“This is TJC’s seventh year to be part of the LSAMP program,” said Gigi Delk, TJC professor of computer science and LSAMP director and principal investigator.
“Nineteen of our STEM students have participated in the program, working with UT Tyler, UT San Antonio, UT Permian Basin, UT Dallas, UT Arlington, and the University of England through the LSAMP Research Abroad Fellowship. These students truly represent the academic excellence of TJC graduates and highlight the quality of our STEM programs.”
At the end of the 10-week fellowship, the LSAMP research students will meet at UTEP and participate in research poster presentation competition.
In her summer fellowship, Nghiem will work with Dr. Kyung-An Han in the UTEP biology department, performing research on how dopamine in the brain facilitates the creation of addictive behaviors induced by the use of drugs and alcohol.
Originally from Charlotte, N.C., Nghiem moved to Tyler to work for her father.
“College was not really in my plans until I was inspired by my sister to apply to community college,” she said. “I did not think of myself as a capable academic until I started at TJC. TJC, specifically the faculty here, has helped me gain confidence in myself. Before studying at TJC, I would not have even thought about applying for this research fellowship.”
After graduating in May with an Associate of Science in chemistry, Nghiem will transfer to UT Dallas, where she will double major in chemistry and biology. Eventually, she hopes to attend a Texas medical school, earn M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in health public policy, and participate in the Air Force Health Profession Scholarship Program.
“Ultimately, I want to be able to give back to TJC and create a scholarship to help future students like myself,” she said.
Alvarez said, “Upon starting my academic career at Tyler Junior College, I felt my abilities in mathematics and science weren’t as adept as my peers. At one point I even considered switching majors to economics. I’m glad to say today that my aspirations and work ethic were stronger than my doubt. I look forward to developing further as a researcher and an electrical engineer.”
Rodriguez said getting involved in student organizations and activities helped him develop his academic skills.
He said, “Going into high school and college I began getting involved in band, honors societies and other organizations where I was able to find a passion for learning. It is because of my involvement in school that I was able to dedicate more time to STEM courses where I learned about engineering leading the upcoming age in technology we are bound to see in the future. My goal is to become a part of this project in leading future technology and to encourage my peers as well as future generations to find an interest which gives them purpose.”