New campus group to support minorities in STEM fields

Mercury Bowen, Entertainment Reporter

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A new campus group called iSTEM will merge the Women in Science and Mathematics and Minority Mentoring in Mathematics and Science programs into one entity.

Grace Osborn, a member of iSTEM, said the group is a good way to collaborate with others in the STEM fields.

“iSTEM’s really about networking with people and getting to know people, not just in your major, but in the other STEM field majors and faculty members from those other majors,” Osborn said. “It’s really about sharing ideas and getting to know other people.”

Kirstin Duffin, co-chair of the group and the science librarian at Booth Library, said the two groups, both of which had been in existence for more than 10 years, had hosted several events together, thus the faculty advisory boards decided to combine the groups into one.

“We wanted to modernize (the group),” Duffin said. “We wanted to give the group a fresh face, so we just created a new name for the group.”

The group’s objectives, Duffin said, will be to provide mentoring and networking opportunities for students, as well as well as hosting social and professional events.

Osborn said the group is hoping to start some outreach programs as well.

“We’re hoping to get some of that started, like going to other places and just spreading the word about diversifying the STEM fields,” Osborn said.

What Osborn said got her involved with the group was the importance of people being treated fairly.

“Minorities deserve the same access to jobs and resources and things that will better them as any other person,” Osborn said. “I think it’s super important that everybody has the same resources and ability to have the same jobs and the same access to things.  So, getting this group together for me is super important because it’s going to give these minorities a chance to better have access to those things that they may or may not have as a minority.”

Duffin said it was her life experiences that led her to become involved with the group.

“I wanted to have an opportunity to provide guidance where I could and provide an example of an alternative career path,” Duffin said. “Future librarians, people in library school, often will have history or humanities backgrounds, so those of us with science backgrounds actually are highly desirable in this field anyway.”

One of the things Duffin said she will enjoy most about the iSTEM group is working with students to further their potential.

“I like the opportunity to engage with students outside of the classroom environment and try to help them learn about what kind of career would work for them,” Duffin said. “I think that was the hardest thing I struggled with as an undergraduate, so if I can provide opportunities for a student to learn more about that, I would find that enjoyable and rewarding.”

For further information, those interested may contact Kirstin Duffin at [email protected].

Students may also text “@istemeiu” to 81010 to join a Remind list, which the group will use to send text reminders about upcoming events.

Mercury Bowen can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].