In October 2019, Dr. Esmeralda Ramirez-Peña, a current CPFP Fellow, was invited to present the keynote address at the 11th Annual GSLSAMP/NNJ-B2B STEM Research Conference at Rutgers University. This yearly event is sponsored by the Garden State-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the Northern New Jersey Bridges to Baccalaureate Alliance and seeks to support traditionally underrepresented minority (URM) students by expanding opportunities in STEM-related disciplines.
Dr. Ramirez-Peña’s address focused on her scientific journey from childhood, a stage of her life impacted by a move from Mexico to the US, to the present. She told the story of her passion for laboratory research and her struggle with impostor syndrome (IS), a struggle which was amplified by statistics surrounding attrition rates and lack of leadership positions for URMs and women in STEM. She stressed that participation in community outreach initiatives helped her to realize that as a female, Latina scientist, she had the power to inspire future generations of URM researchers. From these experiences, she became more comfortable in her space as a scientist.
Esmeralda also credits the CPFP for supporting this scientific journey. She expressed that with “the NCI CPFP I have received training that has enhanced my scientific career through the M.P.H. and the Leadership Series. These training opportunities have broadened my horizons and have enabled me to make valuable connections with other URMs in public health and cancer research. The Leadership Training Series has equipped me with strategies on dealing with IS and strengthening emotional intelligence to maximize my productivity. I was able to share what I learned from this series during my talk and pass on valuable information to students struggling with IS.”
Following her talk, Dr. Ramirez-Peña interacted with conference attendees, students presenting research projects on topics spanning engineering, the microbiome, genetics, single cell algorithms, and immunology. She enjoyed learning about their own scientific experiences and the strong academic community and dedicated mentors they receive from the Garden State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and The Northern New Jersey Bridges to Baccalaureate Alliance.