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Cabrini University gives students the opportunity to work side-by-side PCOM scientists this past summer. 
Cabrini University gives students the opportunity to work side-by-side PCOM scientists this past summer. 

Cabrini opens mentoring program for minorities in STEM

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Diversifying the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields has long been an issue in secondary institutions. According to Vice, African-Americans and Hispanics are the most underrepresented in STEM workplaces. 

Research has shown that the lack of diversity in STEM is because minorities, specifically African-Americans and Hispanics, do not finish college. Another reason is because of the discrimination they face in the workplace. Forty percent of Asians, who are overrepresented in STEM, have also faced discrimination. 

The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) partnered with Cabrini University this summer to provide a mentoring program for students who expressed interest in STEM. The program educated African-American and Hispanic students on conducting research and allowed them to gain experience working in a laboratory. 

During the eight-week program Cabrini students worked side-by-side with PCOM researchers. While working on the research team, the students designed their own experiments and presented their findings.

And they’re not just going through the motions.

Mindy George-Weistein, who’s been Chief research and Science Officer at Cabrini for 30 years, says past students have made “significant contributions” to the university’s research. 

“They are bright, collegial, inquisitive and capable,” she said. 

Jacquelyn Gerhart, coordinator of PCOM’s research support staff and former Cabrini student, took part in the program this summer. 

She says her experience was one of the reasons she landed her job at PCOM.  

“I was very happy to give back,” said Gerhart.

Working alongside her to study cells in the human eye was junior biology major, Mark Martin. He shared his gratitude for the research experience he gained at Gerhart’s direction and felt confident going forward when looking for a job in the field.

“She was an amazing mentor and made this experience truly memorable for me,” said Martin.

Senior Alexander Sanchez and junior Zachary Martinez also participated in the summer program. Sanchez who is studying psychology at Cabrini, worked with associate professor Scott Little, PhD, on finding potential triggers for Alzheimer’s disease. 

Martinez, who is studying biology, worked with Dr. Jocelyn Lippman-Bell researching the effects of early-life seizures. 

“I’m definitely going to take everything I’ve learned and use those skills for the rest of my life,” he said. “I’d love to come to PCOM after undergrad. I love the family environment here—everyone is very friendly,” said Martinez. 

The eight-week program was organized by Cabrini’s Chief Diversity Officer, José Rodriguez alongside the PCOM offices of Diversity and Community Relations, Admissions, and the Division of Research.

For more information, on PCOM visit pcom.edu.


 

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