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SIUE Upward Bound Students Talk with STEM Experts
Missouri Ag Connection - 06/30/2020

What do a surgeon, a registered nurse, a software developer and an engineering professor all have in common? They were all guests at a STEM Career Day, hosted by the SIUE East St. Louis Center Collinsville's Upward Bound's Math and Science (UBMS) program.

UBMS held its annual STEM Career Day. This year, due to COVID-19 it is scheduled as a STEM Summer Speaker Series. The meetings run from 11 a.m. to noon each Thursday through July 16.

Each week boasts four-eight experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The first session, where more than 40 students tuned in, featured the following speakers:

- Serdar Celik, PhD, professor in the SIUE Department of Mechanical Engineering

- Alexander Reyes, software developer at Hiddetek Inc. in Los Angeles, Calif.

- David Rice, MD, general surgeon at Atrium Health in Charlotte, N.C.

- Elizabeth Seliga, RN, nurse practitioner and manager, Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University

- Anne Werner, PhD, associate professor in the SIUE Department of Construction

UBMS-STEM-AlexanderReyes"Students, we invited guests based on the career fields you expressed interest in. You are in charge of these sessions, please take advantage of this opportunity and ask your questions," directed UBMS Program Director Desiree Tyus. "Due to conducting our STEM Summer Speaker Series online we were able to expand our reach and invite even more STEM professionals from across the country! Our program is exceptionally diverse, because of the district that we serve. Our staff reflects our diversity, and it was important that our speakers did, too. Professor Celik zoomed into our meeting from Istanbul, Turkey!"

Rice was asked how long it took him to complete his schooling. The general surgeon replied that he spent four years at the University of Pennsylvania for his undergraduate work and five more years in residency. "As a general surgeon, I've done things from head to toe," Rice continued, "but mostly hernias, gall bladders, appendectomies, cancer, thyroid and a lot of emergencies."

Reyes developed and pursued an interest in software, because a relative took special interest in him and paid attention to his strengths.

"My greatest mentor was an uncle," said Reyes. "He accepted me, guided me, and gave me the support I needed. This is what motivates me to be here today and to try all I can to do the same for someone else."

Celik was asked to describe mechanical engineering. "To me, it is like a wide ocean," he described. "It has so many subfields under it.

"When I was eight or nine years old, I made up my mind to be a mechanical engineer, because my grandfather had a HVAC business. My father also continues the same business here. I thought after I got my diploma, I would go into the family business. But things don't always work out the way you plan. I'm happy things worked out this way. I like my job at SIUE."

Guest Curtis Redding, IT project manager at Deloitte Consulting, shared his enjoyment about participating in the speaker series. "I am an alumnus of University of Pennsylvania's Upward Bound program," he said, "and I recognize what a tremendous impact it had on my life. I believe it's important to continue to pour into our youth and provide them with opportunities to increase their awareness of their possibilities."

"I participate to ensure that minority students see someone who looks like them who are succeeding in a profession they are interested in," added Jerrica Ampadu, PhD, RN, CCP, SIUE WE CARE Clinic director and SON coordinator of diversity.

"Representation and exposure to opportunities is exceptionally important for our students," concluded Tyus. "It is hard to visualize yourself doing something that you are unaware of and/or unfamiliar with. We are very pleased with the professional experts participating in our speaker series."

Other speakers include:

- Natalie Becker, PE, supervising engineer, Gas Standards and Procedures at Ameren Illinois

- Nina Clarke-Walker, senior project director, Pharmaceutical Research Contract in Philadelphia, Pa.

- Kim Labonte, executive director of audits, SIU System

- Antoniee (Toni) Mann, CE, senior designer, Illinois Department of Transportation

- Edward Navarre, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry

- Tricia Taitt, Virtual CFO, owner, The Art of Money Matters in New York

- Jerome Bynam, MD, general surgeon at United Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

- Adriana E. Martinez, PhD, associate professor in the SIUE Department of Geography

- Andrew English, DDS, Smile for Life Dentistry in Maryville

- Linda DaCosta, RN, Good Shepherd Penn Partners and DaCosta Legal Nursing Consulting, LLC in Philadelphia

- Gunes Ercal, PhD, associate professor in the SIUE Department of Computer Science

- Darnell Degand, PhD, University of California Davis professor of Educational Technology and Media

- Rohan Benjankar, PhD, assistant professor in the SIUE Department of Civil Engineering

- Terry Palmer, nuclear reactor operator at Exelon Corporation in Naperville

- Carrie Butts-Wilmsmeyer, PhD, associate professor and director of SIUE's Center for Predictive Analytics

- Natasha Jenkins, contracts program manager, United States Department of Agriculture

- Sandra Batista, PhD, professor of Computer Science at the University of Southern California

- David M. Conner, MD, psychiatrist at David M. Conner MD in Swansea, IL

- Julie Zimmermann, PhD, chair and professor in SIUE's Department of Anthropology

- David J. Sherrill, PLS, instructor in the SIUE Department of Civil Engineering

- Christian Duncan, electrical engineer director, Corporate Strategy at Verizon in New York

- Leslie Stallons, engineering supervisor, MiTek, Inc in St. Louis, Mo.

- Tanesha Duncan, vice president of transition services, Bristol Myers Squibb in Summit, New Jersey

- James Jordan, Jr., director of financial operations division, United States Department of Agriculture

- Sariah Cantrell, forensic chemist, Drug Enforcement Administration in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

- Dana Goin, wildlife outreach specialist, Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem, New York

- Kimberly Hoorman, manger of Learning Experiences, Saint Louis Zoo in St. Louis

- Drae Montgomery, senior IT project manager, Defense Commissary Agency in Fort Lee, Va.

- Vicki LaRose, PE, president, Civil Design, Inc in St. Louis

- Mark E. McKinley, director of direct loan division, Unites States Department of Agriculture

- David DeVeydt, senior risk analyst, Edward Jones in St. Louis

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