Research matters for People of Color

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I was recently reading this article and was reminded about why representation is so important culturally. I think sometimes living in a dominant culture that tries to forget its racist tendencies and racial biases you can loose the benefit of culture talk. This talk about how our cultures are “different” leads to having more culture sensitive actions taken at places like school and local government. In these places the actions of a few directly and clearly impact groups of people.

I attend a predominantly White school myself and there is not a lot of classes or research happening around my culture. So I take pride in the fact that I have been able to participate in research. Now, I am very much in the technology arena, and not necessarily studying social or biology aspects that impact my culture in my current position. But I am bringing visibility and hopefully inspiring others who come from my background to follow my example and take up research.

Flashing back to last semester I participated in a social impact competition called the Hult Prize. This is a worldwide competition that received 25,000 applications and only accepted 300. So my team was very fortunate to be picked. With a theme of doubling the income of a million people by 2020 we set out to do that using technology. The research that my team did was on using $5 computers and training those living in severe poverty, perhaps in slums, refugee camps or other urban crowded areas. We would provide them with jobs within the space of their own community. This was a problem filled with a lot of cultural nuance and there is still a lot of work to do to see how this could come into reality.

Being in research as well as being aware of need for the shift towards equality to take place gives me a focus on networking and building team of driven students around me. Technology needs diversity too. There are real social problems that may be occurring in my culture and I can help solve them with the work I am doing.

Written by:

Cami is about to start her senior year in Mechanical Engineering at Boise State University. She currently holds a Machine Learning internship at HP and is looking to break into industry with Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. After starting with the NASA Aerospace High School Scholars she has also participated in other NASA programs such as Microgravity University Undergraduate Research. She is also a committed and active volunteer for other STEM and Diversity groups and organizations. Stay tuned to see what she does next!

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