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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Uniting for diversity

    Students from diverse backgrounds and fields of study gathered together at a mixer yesterday to raise interest and retention for minority undergraduate students.

    The Center for Materials and Device for Information Technology Research, the Latino Association of Graduate Students in Engineering and Science and the Black Graduate Student Association held the mixer.

    “”In the science, engineering and math fields we want to see more Americans, women and students of color going into these fields,”” said Nura Dualeh, assistant director of the McNair Achievement Program. “”There is definitely a lack of representation. We are trying got turn it around, but it takes time.””

    In comparison to the rest of the world, the United States is producing fewer engineers. Some Asian nations have more than 500,000 people getting engineering degrees each year while the U.S. only produces about 70,000, Dualeh said.

    Students who attended the mixer felt that diversity is important in these fields for various reasons.

    “”Usually those majors lead to careers with certain positions of power and those people, like scientists, determine a lot in society,”” said Irma Perez, a math junior. “”So, if you have diversity there in these areas you are representing the population better because not only one type of people live in the U.S.””

    Alan Moghadden, a sophomore majoring in biochemistry and biophysics, said diversity is important because different cultures developed the subjects and they are now underrepresented in those areas.

    Along with the free food and drinks, students were able to listen to guest lecturers from various multicultural organizations about recruitment opportunities.

    Cazandra Zaragoza, a graduate assistant for the Office of Outreach and Multicultual Affairs at the College of Medicine, said mixers are the best way for students to create networks necessary in these careers.

    “”This is a great place to start if you aren’t sure how to get involved,”” Zaragoza said. “”Also, the cultural centers on campus have information to help get you involved. Get onto the listservs because that is where the majority of communication and deadlines and what not is sent through.””

    Zaragoza explained how she felt it was necessary for students to get involved because the numbers of students in these fields do not reflect the population of Arizona.

    “”Undergraduates are about 12 to 14 percent minority and that includes Latino, African American, Native American and Asians,”” Zaragoza said. “”Our representation on campus overall is about 20 percent of the students are minorities and the rest is classified as Caucasian. Out of 35,000 students that is a big number. Science majors are growing with minorities.””

    Tim Melano, a graduate student in the Biomedical Engineering Department, believes there is a lack of diversity in the field of engineering.

    “”The diversity could be better in the field,”” Melano said. “”There are certainly a lot of females in the biological sciences, and there are a lot of non-white students in the engineering classes but there is definitely a lack of representation from students from underprivileged communities like Hispanic and African Americas in many classes.””

    Events like this mixer are planned in attempts to help with retention, Dualeh said. Word of mouth and the overall growth of the population, however, are what keep such things going.

    “”Having things like this where students are comfortable and they can walk in and the people around them are like them and have gone through the same thing you did is important and necessary for retention,”” Zaragoza said.

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