Summer Immersion at PSU BUILD EXITO

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Scholars Paulina Oropeza and Medina Lamkin at a weekly Summer Immersion session

Summer at BUILD EXITO marked several significant transitions the program’s students. The incoming cohort traveled from all over the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim for a one-week orientation. Second-year students placed in their research learning communities and attended the “Summer Induction” program, and students participating in their third summer spent their weeks in the lab and engaged in the “Summer Immersion” program. 

The EXITO summer immersion program is an opportunity for scholars who are heading into their senior year of undergrad to attend structured workshops, where time is set aside twice a week to work on research skills and professional portfolio items they’ll need for a career in STEM. Decauter Foster spent the summer leading weekly sessions for the Immersion students.  

“As the instructor, I provide guidance and insight into the complexity that is understanding and navigating expectations within academia,” Foster said. “But most of the work scholars do is individual, with a heavy emphasis on peer review. It’s a unique chance for all of us to learn from and about each other and our research--as no one person or one field of science has all the answers.”

BUILD EXITO scholars Toni Brooks and Michael SantosEXITO Immersion scholar Michael Santos worked at Oregon Health & Sciences University in professor Martin Schreiber’s Trauma Research laboratory, which focuses on clinical research. Santos, who transferred to PSU last year from North Marianas College said he “lucked out” by being placed at research lab.

“I was suddenly placed in a setting where my peers and I were fully integrated within the Emergency Department in an OHSU hospital and it was like seeing a new world for me,” Santos said. “By being with them within a single summer, my knowledge of healthcare skyrocketed and even more opportunities have opened up for me, such as being part of a study that allows me to frequent the operating rooms and observe attending physicians and residents going through a case. I’m just glad I was reminded about the potential doors BUILD EXITO can open up for you.”

EXITO student Toni Brooks spent her summer work with Portland State University professor Eric Mankowski, a community psychologist who studies men and masculinity. She spent the summer working on three separate projects that involve data entry, data coding, writing data reports, and other activities.

"This summer has been full of great experiences,” Brooks said. “We focus on community psychology with a deeper focus on the social construct of masculinity and violence. I mostly work independently or with another EXITO scholar however, there is always help if I actually ask for it. I am looking forward to growing in my research position and exploring further opportunities." 

Scholars Felicia Zhou, Naly Setthavongsack, and Kelly Zhen at a weekly Summer Immersion sessionFifty-five EXITO Scholars will present their research to the community in the annual Summer Research Symposium at the end of September. Presentation topics range from the “Influence of Social Vulnerability Among Rates of Readmitted Pediatric Patients” to “Identifying the Barriers Spanish Speaking Latinas Face in Research at the Oregon Health and Research University.” 

The opportunity to work for nearly two years in a research placement gives students a chance to gain a deep understanding of the research process and to embed themselves within key elements of the lab. 

“We recognize the hard work of these students as they juggle many different responsibilities and priorities in addition to their roles as researchers,” said Jen Lindwall, Communications Director of BUILD EXITO. “We are excited to celebrate the students as they present on their research areas and topics with passion, confidence, and poise.”

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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