More Hispanics Needed In The Sciences

Caution, rant to follow…

[rant]I am taking two upper division courses at UC San Diego, Device Physics and Active Circuit Design. I know a lot of the material already from my undergrad, but I am planning on getting my masters in EE from there, so I figured a refresher would be good.

These are typical undergrad courses, ones that have to be taken by all engineers. The classrooms are big, holding 100+ students in an auditorium type setting. So you get to see what the average Engineering/Science class looks like. One of the first things I noticed when I started the class was how few Hispanics there are. Out of all the students in the classroom, I have not found one who looks Hispanic. Granted, not all Hispanics look alike, and there may be Hispanics who aren’t easily recognized as Hispanic. But it’s a clear fact that the majority in the classroom are Asian and White. I think I saw one black person.

I truly have a love for the sciences, and no disrespect to the liberal arts majors, but I am always bothered when I hear about a Hispanic who did well in high school and has the potential to succeed and yet decided to major in Chicano Studies or some degree like that. I always think its such a waste (especially since those majors are heavily biased towards the liberal philosophy, but that’s another topic). Why not enter a field where Hispanics are underrepresented, a field that has the most real world application, and a field that encourages math and science? Ok, I grant you that knowing where you came from is also good, but I think Chicano Studies and the like should be hobbies, or maybe minors at most, but definitely not your primary area of study.

I have three younger brothers and sisters still living at home. My two youngest brothers are only five and seven so I am just getting started with them. But my sister, she is thirteen now and is already showing a very strong understanding of math. She is top of her class despite having parents that don’t speak English very well. My dad doesn’t even have an elementary level education. I’ve taken it upon myself to encourage this side of her and to foster her love for math and the sciences. I am also doing the same for my little brothers.

I encourage all my fellow Hispanics out there to do the same. Encourage your kids to study the sciences. To study majors that heavily deal with math. Majors like all forms of Engineering, Economics, Chemistry, and Biology. Read up on important people in the sciences and talk positively about their accomplishments. Find local science functions going on around the neighborhood. If you can’t find one near your neighborhood, drive out of your way to go to one. You’d be surprised how much that affects a child’s view. For example, when I was younger, I was going down the wrong path in life and I remember seeing my dad up late studying. He came to this country from Mexico with no education whatsoever, but he is such a hard worker that his company offered him the chance to go to school and learn diesel mechanic stuff, therefore giving him the opportunity to get a job that would pay him almost double his salary. He jumped at the chance, and when he first tried to register at City College they turned him down. Arguing that with his lack of education, and bad English, he wouldn’t survive. My dad protested until they agreed to let him have a chance. So for the next six months my dad would start work at 6am, go to work until 4pm, than go to school until 10pm, come home and study until 12 or 1 in the morning, continuously, day after day. He would translate each line with his Spanish/English translator, or would have me translate it for him. To make a long story short, he got C’s his first semester, B’s his second, and straight A’s since then. He spent the next two years in City College, with all but the first two semesters getting straight A’s. Granted he didn’t take any GE course, all the courses he took were related to diesel mechanic, but with what he had to work with, it is still amazing what he was able to accomplish. To get back to my point, seeing my dad do that had a huge impact on my life. It taught me the value of education and gave me the will to do it. When I was going through a rough time in my life I registered in college and soon rose to the top of my class, not because I am the smartest kid in the class (I wasn’t), but because I had a desire to study and a willingness to give it my all. Looking back I don’t think I would have done it without my dad’s experience. So even though it can be hard and you may know very little about math, it is still very possible. What makes a kid get good grades is more dependent on the values and ethics you teach your son/daughter, than on actual help you give him in class.

So I plead with all Hispanics reading this blog. Push your kids into the sciences, start at a young age, and encourage them to continue. We need more Hispanics in the sciences.

Ok, rant over. [/rant] Time to get back to studying…

7 Responses to “More Hispanics Needed In The Sciences”

  1. […] anicPundit is also taking classes at UCSD in engineering. He has a really good post about “More Hispanics Needed In The Sciences” which just took the words right out of my mouth if you did […]

  2. […] cussing the problem concerning the lack of Hispanics in the sciences, something that is of particular concern to me. And it was like pulling teeth to get her to even admit there is a problem, as […]

  3. Fernando says:

    To all the students out there , Don’t forget the Grants directory,, The University of Michigan puts out a heck of a grants directory.

    http://www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/grants/3specpop.htm

    I do push the sciences in the boards that I post in (with that grants link as well.)
    Learn from this old internet user. That grants directory is not just for the kids “anyone under the age of 30”. It also serves us Adults.

  4. cindylu says:

    Okay, about Chicana/o Studies, unlike you, I’m never sad to hear someone tell me that she wants to major/minor in this discipline. I’m not going to argue on the merits of Chicana/o Studies, because as you mentioned, it is a whole other topic. However, I will say that many (if not the majority) of the students I met who major(ed) in Chicana/o Studies also major(ed) in a traditional discipline. It wasn’t just another social science discipline, but it included students in the arts, physical and life sciences. Many people don’t realize that the original proponents of Chicana/o Studies encouraged students to double major.

    I’ve worked with lots of undergrads. Many of them started off in the sciences and later switched their majors. It wasn’t necessarily that it was too hard, but some of them weren’t “feeling” the major after a year or two.

    I’m actually doing research on underrepresented minorities in biomedical and behavioral sciences. There is definitely a need for more people in these professions and there are lots of programs, especially at the large research universities, that target URM’s for preparation for research careers in these fields.

    Oh yeah… the “liberal arts” do encompass the hard sciences according to the Carnegie Foundation.

  5. Hey Cindylu,

    However, I will say that many (if not the majority) of the students I met who major(ed) in Chicana/o Studies also major(ed) in a traditional discipline. It wasn’t just another social science discipline, but it included students in the arts, physical and life sciences.

    My experience has been the exact opposite. Almost all of the people I have met that majored in that, that became their primary discipline.

    But for the record, I do base a significant amount of my hostility towards that major on its liberal bias. It also, IMO, encourages divisions instead of unifications, and teaches people how to be victims.

    But again, that is just my opinion. 😉

    Thanks for stopping by, you are welcome here anytime.

  6. Flanigan says:

    I am so glad to hear another Latino make these comments.It seems that we share a lot of the same cultural background. I am a Latin female and I am looking into majoring in biomedical engineering or physics engineering. Like you, I also feel that more Latinos need to look into natural and applied science majors. I am currently attending a college in the East coast where I have not seen any Latinos which is quite sad.

  7. Couldn’t agree with you more, Flanigan.

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