Funded by the National Science Foundation, North Park’s S-STEM cohort of 20 students, embraced virtual learning opportunities with STEM guest speakers from across the country.
Working within COVID-19 guidelines, the cohort scholars experienced immersive learning through meetings with guest speakers. Physics and Engineering scholars attended 10 guest speaker sessions over the course of the school year and Biology scholars attended 12 guest speaker sessions.
Students interacted with an environmental science analyst from Argonne National Labs; Chicago-based architectural engineer; medical technologist at Amazon; and biomedical devices designer at Medical University of South Carolina.
Sunny Meva, a sophomore majoring in Environmental Science, found the networking
aspect of the cohort especially beneficial. “Having guest speakers come to talk to us and getting to know them has helped me make a comfortable transition to contacting other people. With the support of Dr. Choi and Dr. Quainoo I know I can succeed,” said Meva.
Dr. Yoojin Choi, professor of Biology and Department Chair, connected students with North Park alumni and professionals with intersectional experiences, such as pre-med students who pursued biomedical engineering/design; an environmental science major who is now a photovoltaic system designer; a physics major who is now studying environmental management; and a math and chemistry double major who now leads medical doctors in cancer research.
“The clear message that emerged from most of our guest speakers was that we need to be open to new career possibilities and that North Park’s liberal arts-based science education allows us to offer those valuable learning experiences,” said Choi.
North Park’s Biology Department maintains relationships with alumni and other industry partners so current students can speak directly with both accomplished and entry-level STEM professionals. The S-STEM grant introduces students to networking, communication, intentional advising, and immersive industry experiences. Thanks to the S-STEM grant, industry partnerships are already beginning to bloom – GI Supply, a biomedical devices company, has committed to offer funds to a team of three North Parkers to start a research project this summer.