Words of Wisdom

We asked some of the outgoing CSU STEM VISTA members about what advice they would give to our incoming VISTA members. Here is what some of them had to say:


Nam: “Be yourself, especially if you are moving to a different place. People can put up walls and pull themselves away from the community. Be yourself and be open to engage with the community.”

Miriam: “Do not worry too much, everything’s going to be okay.”

Anonymous: “You will find that this year will be difficult and rewarding, and at the end of the journey, you will be a different person. Take it one day at a time, do not feel afraid to make mistakes and enjoy your year of service.”   Continue reading “Words of Wisdom”


VISTA Spotlight – Tiffany Seik-Ismail

15844360_10154915175999224_6445558257897335318_o (1).jpgName: Tiffany Seik-Ismail

Host Site: Cal Poly Pomona, Maximizing Engineering Potential

Alma Mater: Case Western Reserve University

Major: BA in Biochemistry and Psychology / MA in Bioethics

Background: As a child, I always wanted to become a doctor. I continually thought to myself, “how else could I care for someone to help them thrive?”

However, as an undergraduate, I learned about the many different ways people support one another and how the support creates little ripples that can positively benefit someone’s life. I had been so focused on academics throughout my K-12 education that I had completely forgotten about giving back to the community and helping others in the same way I had been helped. I mistakenly believed that the support should come from individuals more experienced, more senior, or who already had a degree—I didn’t think that I could make the difference. Continue reading “VISTA Spotlight – Tiffany Seik-Ismail”

My Experiences Exploring: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Written By Nicki Holm, CSU STEM VISTA Member 2016-17 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Nicki.jpgFrom an early age, cancer played an integral role in the lives of those closest to me. Her name was Megan, she was my best friend, and she was only eighteen months old when she was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme. Even though she passed just before her seventh birthday, we experienced together more life than I would rationally think possible in just over six years, and it was losing her that led third grade Nicki to start asking questions like: What is cancer? How could a disease be so indiscriminate that it affects such a wide range of ages, abilities, etc.? And the question seemingly everyone asks, what can we do?  

To set the foundation for one day hoping to have even the slightest understanding of this Emperor of all Maladies — the title and name given to cancer in Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Biography of Cancer — I attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in pursuit of a B.S. in Biological Sciences, with a concentration in Cellular & Molecular Biology. Over the course of my time at Cal Poly SLO, I took invaluable classes like Genetics, Cell Biology, Virology, and Immunology, but it was not until taking Molecular Biology Laboratory in my fourth year that I ever heard the name Henrietta Lacks. Continue reading “My Experiences Exploring: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”

VISTA Spotlight – Kimberly Torres

Name: Kimberly TorresIMG_8524.JPG

Host Site: California State University, Long Beach BUILD

Alma Mater: California State University, Fullerton

Major: Political Science

Background: Since my freshman year of high school, I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to do in life. Fast forward to the junior year of my undergraduate career, I had mixed feelings about my major and career choice. I dedicated my undergraduate career to studying political science in order to learn the law and the inner workings of the government while pursuing a law degree. Continue reading “VISTA Spotlight – Kimberly Torres”

2014-2015 Position Openings!

From July 2014-July 2015, CSU STEM VISTA members will serve as liaisons between campus host sites and their community partners so that CSU students can participate in mentoring and academic support programs, as well as engaged learning experiences such as service learning, internships and undergraduate research. VISTAs will also support K-12 student success in STEM through departmental partnerships with local K-12 schools, after school programs, local science museums and other youth programs.CCE-16433-2014 VISTA-Flyer

CSU departments participating in the inaugural year of the CSU STEM AmeriCorps*VISTA Program are:

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Center for Excellence in STEM Education+
Fresno State College of Science and Math+
Fresno State Construction Management Program
CSU East Bay Institute for STEM Education+
San José State College of Science+
CSU Monterey Bay Division of Science and Environmental Policy and Service Learning Institute
CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB)+
CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science, and Technology (COAST)
Cal Poly Pomona College of Engineering+
+indicates that the department will host two VISTA members

Check out the 15 available positions here:

Announcing new CSU STEM VISTA Program

We are pleased to share that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), through the California State Office, has awarded the CSU Chancellor’s Office, Center for Community Engagement (CCE), 15 AmeriCorps*VISTA positions (to be awarded to STEM departments) to launch a new program in the 2014-2015 academic year.

Through this new program, CSU STEM VISTA: Building Institutional Capacity for a Stronger Baccalaureate, VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members will serve in CSU STEM departments to build capacity to support student success in STEM, particularly among under-represented students. VISTAs will serve as liaisons between campus departments and their community partners so that CSU students can participate in mentoring and academic support programs, as well as engaged learning experiences like service learning, internships, community-based research and undergraduate research. VISTAs can also support K-12 student success in STEM through departmental partnerships with local K-12 schools, after school programs, local science museums, and other youth programs. The overall goal of this VISTA program is to link education and community engagement to help alleviate poverty.

We have already received enthusiastic response from many CSU STEM departments and we look forward to implementing this innovative program in the next year.