Conducting breast cancer research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is just one way that Alejandra Maíz has used the knowledge she gained in the classroom, working together with her lab group and expanding on those ideas. A junior studying molecular genetics – an area that interests her because of the inheritance patterns of traits and diseases – Alejandra is also using her skills by volunteering at La Clínica Latina, a free clinic held by Ohio State’s College of Medicine for Spanish-speaking individuals that provides on-going, comprehensive healthcare. “Between interacting with patients and helping the attending physicians and the medical students, La Clínica Latina has only enhanced my desire to become a physician,” Alejandra declared; after graduation in the spring of 2016, Alejandra plans to attend medical school and eventually become an ophthalmologist.
Recent statistics show that only one-third of all bachelor’s degrees earned in the United States are in STEM fields, and students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field are more likely to switch to a non-STEM major. As a STEM major, Alejandra receives encouragement through her participation in The Ohio LSAMP Alliance, which includes 11 Ohio institutions of higher education working together to increase the number of bachelor’s degrees completed in STEM fields. “LSAMP has acted as a great support system. My scholar advisors, Tyler Cole and Dr. Barbara Fink [Ohio LSAMP program coordinator and director, respectively], are extremely dedicated and helpful. They truly have my best interests at heart, and having this support system so far from home has truly helped me to succeed here at Ohio State,” Alejandra stated.
Alejandra has also found assistance within the Latino Student Association (LSA) at Ohio State, an organization dedicated to celebrating the Latino culture as well as fostering and bringing awareness about the Latino community. Currently the Vice President of Communications, Alejandra has this to say about LSA: “I joined my second year at Ohio State, and it has truly enriched my college experience and helped make OSU my home away from home. LSA helped me meet more people that I can really relate to and make friendships I know will last a lifetime.
Programs and students organizations such as The Ohio LSAMP Alliance and LSA are an important means of keeping students connected and involved while also providing a support network during their academic journey. “Taking full advantage of all the opportunities OSU has to offer has truly helped me develop as an individual and learn more about myself. I’m grateful to attend a university where anything and everything is possible, and there are always people who are eager to help you achieve your dreams.”