By Victoria Merlino
Call them star students.
A group of students from York College’s NASA-supported science program attended the Geological Society of America’s annual conference in Arizona to discover more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, and network with academics.
The group of high school and college students were selected from York’s NASA Minority University Research and Education Project Aerospace Academy, a free program is designed to offer education in STEM to minority communities who have been traditionally underrepresented in those fields.
Nazrul Khandaker, a professor who leads the Aerospace Academy at York, accompanied the students.
“It was highly successful,” Khandaker told the Eagle. Since 2004, he has led over 100 students at GSA conferences to expand their knowledge not just their scientific knowledge, but soft skills like speaking, networking and presenting to others.
The majority of the funding for the trip came from AT&T, Khandaker said, to allow the students to go at a reduced cost. AT&T, Con Edison and National Grid assisted with funding Aerospace Academy this year at York.
“I learned that the field of geology is a lot bigger than I thought it was,” said Sol De Leon Cruz, a computer science and biology student at Hunter College who attended the trip. It was her second time attending the conference with Khandaker’s group.
She continued, saying that she was excited to meet people with similar scientific interests to her, and from a similar background.
“It was really amazing to see more Hispanic and Mexican representation at the conference,” she said, noting that she was a Mexican-American herself.