Although this post isn’t necessarily related to grad school, I wanted to take a moment to highlight academic conferences that are great for first-gens (especially those who identify as BIPOC) to attend. The two that I want to mention are the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) and the National Diversity in STEM Conference held by the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). These conferences are wonderful opportunities for undergrads and post-bacc students to not only present their work, but to also connect with other scholars. Through the RISE program, I was able to go to ABRCMS twice: in 2016 to experience the conference as a whole and in 2017 to present my summer REU project. I had such a great time meeting other students and professionals both in my field and in other fields and would highly recommend attending at least once! Here are the websites for both conferences as well as some dates/deadlines to keep in mind:
Although the deadline has passed to submit an abstract for SACNAS, there is still time to submit one for ABRCMS! Both conferences are also going to be virtual this year due to COVID-19, so traveling won’t be a barrier. There are also booths and exhibits to visit where students can find out more information about summer internships and grad programs (you may even be able to get fee waivers!).
I also wanted to give a shout-out to programs that seek to help underrepresented students in STEM get to grad school. These include Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC), and the McNair Scholars Program. As I stated earlier, I was a RISE scholar and I wouldn’t be starting a PhD in a few weeks without the great mentorship that I received. For anyone that comes across this post, especially those who are earlier in their undergrad career, definitely check to see if your institution has these programs. They offer a great sense of community and can also help you along your grad school journey!