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 – Blake Lopez

Blake.jpgName: Blake Lopez

Host Site: California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB)

Alma Mater: California State University, Bakersfield

Major: Engineering Sciences

Background: Throughout my time at CSUB, I have worked as: a morning Dock Associate at FedEx Freight, an English and Math tutor for the Supplemental Educational Services, an Engineering Transfer Mentor at the local Junior College, and an intern at the CSUB Fabrication Lab. These positions, and my current CSU STEM VISTA role, have helped guide me toward my goal of becoming a teacher in STEM fields, especially mathematics. Ironically, I was the typical student who would go to class and leave immediately without spending unnecessary time on campus. Now, my position requires me to be involved with all of the STEM clubs for the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Engineering (NSME) and many other extracurricular activities on campus. Continue reading “VISTA Spotlight – Blake Lopez”

Clínica de Migrantes

Kimberly Torres, CSU STEM VISTA Member 2016-17 CSU Long Beach, drew attention to resources for undocumented people through an on-campus film screening. Here, she describes what it took to pull it all together.


What is the documentary about?

The documentary, Clínica de Migrantes, follows the stories of undocumented persons living in southern Philadelphia and the struggles they face when it comes to obtaining any form of healthcare.

How did you get the funding for the documentary and event?

My supervisor and I discussed what the process would be like being in charge of the event, the event itself, and the outcomes we would like to see. Once we had a basic plan of the event we asked BUILD and other student and campus partners if they would co-sponsor the event, which they agreed to do. I contacted the Long Beach Trauma and Recovery Center, Center for Latino and Community Health, Health Resource Center, Counseling and Psychological Services, Health Services Student Association, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs to participate in a panel discussion after the event to discuss the resources available to students on campus. Community health organizations were also invited to speak about the health services they provide to Long Beach residents. Continue reading “Clínica de Migrantes”

Bridging Together Technical and Social Worlds

Written By Emily Liptow, CSU STEM VISTA Member 2015-17 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

12803200_10153427471656381_8061855602720549735_n.jpgI remember quite clearly a moment early in my undergraduate studies when I first became distraught at the social-technical divide that pervades our education system and society at large. I was excited to be taking one of my very first Industrial Engineering classes where we were exposed to some of the basic principles of the field. In one of the first weeks of class, our professor provided a brief history of Industrial Engineering, introducing us to Frederick Taylor who is considered the father of the field. Taylor is known for his contributions to industrial efficiency and development of time studies and Scientific Management.

Just a few weeks after learning about Taylor in my engineering class, we met again in a very different context. I was taking a class on the sociology of work and employment, and we had just begun learning about the formation of unions around the time of the industrial revolution. We learned of the abuses many workers faced as manufacturing companies focused on production, efficiency, and the bottom line. Taylor’s ideology of management largely contributed to the dehumanization of workers, reducing them to cogs within the manufacturing process. Continue reading “Bridging Together Technical and Social Worlds”

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”

My STEM Legacy: Leaving a Larger and Lasting Impact

Brandy_science in the parkWritten by Brandy Hyatt, CSU STEM VISTA 2014-2015

Last year if you were to ask me if I would consider a second year of service, my answer would have been no. But, here I am five months into my second year as an AmeriCorps VISTA.

Last year I was lucky enough to participate in an AmeriCorps state and national program; tutoring math to 4th and 5th graders. After my first year of service I realized I wanted to do more. Although I was making an individual impact, I was not making an impact on the larger issue at hand: a deficiency in mathematics, and similar subjects for underrepresented students.


I searched for a position that would give me an opportunity to focus on the larger issue and found the California State University STEM VISTA position available at CSU East Bay in the Institute for STEM Education. It was a perfect chance for me to learn about what initiatives were in place to increase the number of underrepresented students going into fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Continue reading “My STEM Legacy: Leaving a Larger and Lasting Impact”

My Scary, Tepid, Exhilarating, and Mastery Journey to Conquering STEM


Written by: Jessica Taatjes, CSU STEM VISTA 2014-2015

I was a student scared of tackling the hurdles of STEM; my journey from elementary school to college was full of academic hurdles. Ever since third grade, mathematics always gave me a tough time. In high school, I was always floating through STEM classes without thoroughly understanding the topics.  This approach backfired my senior year and required a tremendous amount of tutoring to pass and graduate with my fellow classmates. Following this experience, I became motivated to not let my academic struggles interfere with a college degree. I enrolled in community college and took the minimum amount of STEM classes required to graduate. Shortly after beginning college, I realized I had to go far beyond the minimum to pursue a career in science, my heart sank. I felt as if this would be a replay of my elementary and high school struggles, but in spite of this feeling, I was determined to reach my goals and embarked on a journey of treacherously high hurdles.

Continue reading “My Scary, Tepid, Exhilarating, and Mastery Journey to Conquering STEM”