MESA holds annual STEM and Pre-Health Conference at BC


Naythan Bryant

Students and volunteers endure the rain while registering for the second annual STEM and Pre-Health Conference at Bakersfield College.

Naythan Bryant, Reporter

On March 3, Mathematics, Engineering, Science-Achievement (MESA) held its second annual STEM and Pre-Health Conference at Bakersfield College. MESA is a source of academic development to thousands of educationally disadvantaged students who want to excel in science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) fields.

The conference was designed to allow students from all age groups to work with and learn from professionals in STEM fields as well as pre-health.

The overall goal was to provide opportunities for students to further their education and careers in their specified fields through the help of hands-on workshops, a resource fair, and advice from a keynote speaker. Some of the resources available were college advisors, financial aid counselors, four-year university representatives, industry leaders and student organizations.

The conference kicked off with a presentation from Jose Antonio Gomez. Gomez graduated from Arvin High School where he chose to continue his education and pursue a college degree; he was the first in his family to do so. Today, Gomez works as a Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Davis where he studies the genetics and biochemistry of chromatin templated processes. In his speech, Gomez urged students to take risks, and to be comfortable with failure.

“The experiments I showed you guys from the lab are the ones that worked. But there were many times in the lab that experiments didn’t work. Failure is something you have to be comfortable doing. I learned that failure isn’t something to fear at all,” Gomez said.

He also pushed students to keep moving forward when facing an obstacle and explained his background growing up with migrant farm workers.

“In those hot summer days that most of you guys are familiar with, that’s where I had the feeling that there was something better out there. I felt that education, particularly an education in science, was that way to move forward.”

After hearing from the keynote speaker, students split up into groups and were allowed to attend several workshops throughout campus. There were over 25 workshops combined, all with separate educational purposes for the participants. A few examples of these included Career Opportunities in STEM, Women in Engineering, Agriculture Meets Engineering, and more.

After attending the first two workshops, students met for lunch then made their way to the resource fair where they had an opportunity to meet with experts and professionals in STEM and Pre-Health.

Industry leaders such as Chevron, Univision, and Grimmway Farms were available to answer questions and offer guidance. Several universities also offered their services, such as UC Davis, UCLA, CSUN, CSUB, UC San Diego, and GCU.