Community College Student Leaders Convene to Celebrate Scientific Identity

Underrepresented minorities (URM) in STEM often face isolation, particularly at the community college level. On Friday, June 1, 2018 in San Jose, California, nearly 80 diverse community college students gathered for the first ever Community College Leadership Day (CCLD) hosted by Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). The primary goal of CCLD was to build a network of peers, mentors, and role models so students are equipped with the skills and support to discover who they are as emerging scientists and how to seize their potential to become leaders within their respective fields.

Students in attendance were mostly from community colleges in central and southern California. However, some traveled from as far away as Texas. Ana Escalante, a Latina health major at Evergreen Community College in San Jose applied to CCLD because it represented a critical step in her journey toward a career in STEM. “The support that I need is mentorship, exposure to the diverse STEM field, and guidance towards the steps of academia,” she said.

Sessions included topics such as “Science Justice–Our Role on Influencing Social Equity via STEM,” “Leadership in Your Community,” and a four-year transfer workshop. Speakers included Robin D. Lόpez, a UC Berkeley Graduate Chancellor’s Fellowship awardee who will begin doctoral studies next fall at the university’s top-ranked Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM) program. Lόpez, who is from San Pablo and Richmond, is a graduate of Contra Costa Community College.

“The majority of Latino and Native American students in the United States are in the community college system and they might not have enough opportunities to expose them to future careers in STEM. SACNAS Community College Leadership Day made sure that participants were exposed to the opportunities, resources, and network of support that can help them achieve their highest goals in science,” said SACNAS Director of Programs Rolando Madrid.

CCLD was supported by funding from the Castellano Family Foundation and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

View videos from the event on Facebook and coverage of the event on Twitter with #CCLD18

CCLD was the first in a suite of four leadership trainings offered by SACNAS in 2018. The programs are dedicated to building the capacity of our students and scientists with the necessary leadership skills to advance their education and careers and to lead change at the highest levels.

Community College Leadership Day – June 1, 2018
Advanced Leadership Institute – June 4 – 7, 2018
Linton—Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute – July 16 – 20, 2018
Chapter Leadership Institute – August 3 – 5, 2018


For more than 45 years, SACNAS has served as an inclusive organization dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanics & Native Americans, from college students to professionals, in attaining advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership within STEM.

Today, the organization serves nearly 6,000 members and has 115 student and professional chapters throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. SACNAS influences a larger STEM community of over 25,000 through outreach, advocacy, and production of the National Diversity in STEM Conference. Learn more about SACNAS on Facebook or Twitter.


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