Pursuing a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field can be challenging. But, for students interested in careers in STEM, there is now a new resource to help them overcome those difficulties: Students for STEM, a new club on Penn State’s University Park campus.
The club was founded just a few months ago by Penn State chemistry graduate student Yasha Duggal, who is a member of the Weinert lab. Duggal explains that she was first inspired to start the club when she noticed that many students found themselves in “sink or swim” situations after they decided to enter STEM fields, often struggling to balance classes, lab work, and preparing for future careers or graduate school. Duggal’s solution to this problem is Students for STEM, which is designed to help recruit and retain undergraduate students interested in STEM careers.
“I believe that over the next few years Students for STEM will be able to make a positive impact in central Pennsylvania by getting more students excited about STEM careers and giving them the resources they need to succeed,” Duggal adds, noting that she believes the new club will enrich the Penn State experience for these students.
Duggal says that the club will achieve these goals, firstly, by widening the appeal of STEM careers through their Central Pennsylvania Science Festival, which the club will plan and host. The festival will connect scientists, businesses, industry representatives, and government officials with the general public, hopefully inspiring future scientists to enter STEM fields. The event will also offer a chance for scientists to engage with the community to discuss their scientific needs.
Once students have decided to pursue STEM careers, the next step is to support them during their time at Penn State. Students for STEM plans to do this by pairing undergraduate students with graduate student mentors. Duggal explains that members will meet monthly for a “mentorship hour,” during which mentees will meet with their mentors to discuss areas in which the mentee needs help or advice, including transitioning from high school to college, applying for awards and scholarships, and crafting postgraduate applications.
Aside from these tangible benefits, Duggal hopes that all club members will take away something deeper from their experience with Students for STEM. “I hope that members will feel like they are making a difference and getting more people to think critically and be passionate about STEM, while also feeling like they are personally being supported in their own journey in STEM,” Duggal explains.
Students for STEM is open to graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in STEM fields. The club plans to meet once a month. Please visit sites.psu.edu/StudentsforSTEM for more information; you can also follow the club on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at the handle @StudentforSTEM.