Sunday, October 19, 2014

INSPIRE Excelencia!

I know sometimes I come off a bit negative about things, especially as it relates to my PhD experience. However, it wasn't all bad and recently I was reminded of one of the better experiences.

A few weeks back the INfluence Student Potential and Increase Representation in Education (INSPIRE) program at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS) received national recognition as a pathway for Latino students interested in graduate education and possible careers in the health and biomedical sciences.

INSPIRE was one of the 14 finalists from a pool of 217 competitors for the 2014 Examples of Excelencia award. The award recognizes programs from across the nation that increase academic opportunities and achievement for Latino students.

I would never want to oversell, but I would like to think I had a fairly major hand in developing the INSPIRE program. Along with Dr. Rasgado-Flores and Christina Lopez (who were the brains behind the organization, and who recruited me to help) we developed the program, and set about recruiting faculty, and graduate students to participate. We then set about spreading the word to local high schools and began interviewing students. We also did some fundraising, community outreach, etc. It was a great experience and I was proud to be the GSEO (graduate student executive officer - yes i just made that title up).

INSPIRE was designed as an eight-week mentoring and research program which provides an opportunity for hands-on biomedical research. A mentoring/tutoring aspect is provided as well. Lunch-philosophy sessions with mentors, course-work review, college and career planning, etc. are all part of the INSPIRE program.

We want to increase the number of qualified students from underrepresented populations who complete advanced-degree health programs and serve their community as practicing health professionals,” said Hector Rasgado-Flores, PhD, faculty advisor and RFUMS associate professor of physiology. “INSPIRE is about removing barriers to higher education.” (Side note: Dr. Rasgado-Flores is an inspiration himself. An incredibly charismatic and gifted speaker, he is always a student favorite lecturer. He is also a gifted pianist and composer)

According to the U.S. Department of Education, just four percent of Latinos attain a master’s or higher degree. FOUR PERCENT! This video is a presentation that Dr. Rasgado-Flores has given. In it are some amazing statistics higher education and the Latino population.

And now the victory lap!

As one of this year’s finalists, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science is at the forefront of meeting the challenge of improving higher educational achievement for Latino students,” said Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. “No longer should policymakers and institutional leaders ask how to improve college success for Latinos — we have the largest accumulation of proven examples and tested strategies that show them how. Today’s question is do leaders have the will to put these practices into action?”

Thank you Excelencia in Education for the recognition. Thank you Dr. Rasgado-Flores and Ms. Lopez for the opportunity to help out. Good luck in the future!


Check out the new YouTube Video!

  • Lance D. Presser has a PhD in microbiology and immunology and is a clinical/public health laboratorian.
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