VISTA Spotlight – Miriam Ureno

Miriam.jpgName: Miriam Ureno

Host Site: CSU, Stanislaus

Alma Mater: CSU, Stanislaus

Major: Psychology with a minor in Chemistry

Unexpected Results: It doesn’t matter how well organized an event, a routine, or life can be, always expect the unexpected. When I joined AmeriCorps VISTA, I was aspiring to make a difference on my campus, CSU Stanislaus, and in my local community. As a K-12 STEM Outreach Coordinator, my main focus was to reach out to students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). My resolve to complete this purpose and my passion to reach out to K-12 students was extremely strong and everything else just disappeared. I was not aware of the impact that serving would have on my family and myself. Now that I am getting close to the end of the year, I realize that our spheres of influence as VISTAs tend to interconnect and affect each other. I am extremely pleased to say that even when my programs reached out to close to 2200 participants in our community, it also positively helped to mold the lives of two young girls: my daughters. Continue reading

VISTA Spotlight – Lillian Senn

IMG_9089Name: Lillian G. Senn

Host Site: California State University Fresno, College of Science Advising Resource Center

Alma Mater: California State University Fresno

Major: Biology

Background: After high school I went to Fresno City College (FCC), as opposed to many of my friends who immediately went to 4-year institutions. I felt embarrassed by the choice, compared to my friends who went directly to UC’s and CSU’s. Looking back, I am so happy I waited. I saved so much money, had smaller class sizes, and my professors were solely focused on teaching me rather than also doing research. At FCC, I was a part of the TRiO Student Support Services program which provided me the advising I needed to navigate the process of transferring. Continue reading

Of Mice and STEM, There and Back Again

August and the FogWritten by August Delforge, CSU STEM VISTA 2014-15

In John Steinbeck’s classic novella “of Mice and Men1,” two strikingly different friends and migrant workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, roam the country side of central California in search of new work opportunities during the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  The two  complement each other by bringing different characteristics and skills to their partnership. Despite his surname, Lennie is a large man of great strength but limited mental capacity, while George is a smaller man and, although not formally educated, is an intelligent, quick-witted figure with goals and aspirations. By virtue of their juxtaposing traits, the two rely on each other for combined, mutual success. This story relates to my work on a daily basis, through recognizing other’s strengths and weaknesses along with my own, to the overall goal of the STEM VISTA program (cultivating more inclusion and diversity in the sciences), as well as a special geographical connection to the region where the story takes place. Continue reading