STEM career paths are wrought with secret handshakes and unspoken rules which (rather than selecting for the most motivated, meritorious scientists) too often block first-generation students from research and innovation. Students whose parents or older siblings already navigated the uphill PhD battle are pre-equipped with a map of steps to making conscious, informed decisions about their future STEM career. While advisors and professors are passionate about supporting students, without key background information, first-generation students don’t know what to ask.
STEM Routes is a student organization, founded and run by traditionally under-represented and first-generation graduate students who faced the same systemic discrimination in our attempts to gain access to research and build our STEM careers. STEM Routes is our effort to serve as the mentors we wish we had.
STEM Routes was formed in summer of 2018 by a group of graduate mentors for the SMART (Summer Multicultural Access to Research Training) Program hosted by the Colorado Diversity Initiative (CDI). All of us shared a similar experience as we struggled to navigate our path to graduate school because we didn't know about the unspoken rules of preparing for and applying to graduate programs. In response to the need for better support for first-generation and underrepresented students, we formed STEM Routes in the Summer of 2018 to teach undergraduate students about research through educational workshops, community, and mentorship.
CU Boulder offers a number of programs to support undergraduate research endeavours and underrepresented students in STEM, however, gaps remain. We leverage our personal and professional relationships to bridge these gaps and make inclusive excellence a reality at CU Boulder. Furthermore, our organization is non-hierarchical and decisions are made using a consensus model in order to uplift traditionally suppressed voices in our communities.
CU Boulder's SACNAS Chapter
STEM Routes is the local campus name for the CU Boulder SACNAS chapter. We are officially registered with SACNAS International and annually send recruitment representatives and prospective graduate students to the national conference. Email us if you're interested in attending next year's conference!