Symposium creates opportunity for minority students to display research in their field of interest.
by Alyssa Toillion
Socorro Martinez, senior in animal sciences and industry, proudly represented the Beef Cattle Institute (BCI) at the 15th Annual Developing Scholars Program (DSP) Symposium held on April 19 in the Kansas State University Student Union. During two years as an undergraduate employee of the BCI, Martinez has been instrumental in the production and translation of numerous online training modules.
At the symposium, Martinez presented his study titled “Bilingual Training of Feedlot and Dairy Workers to Ensure Food Safety and Animal Well-Being,” which tested the effectiveness of multimedia training modules. Employees of a feedlot and dairy were asked to fill out a demographic survey and pre-test prior to watching a training module, which were available in both English and Spanish. Following the video, the employees took the exact same test again. The results concluded that the videos were effective, showing a 26 percent improvement rate from pre- to post-test.
In reward for his work, Martinez was presented the Pay it Forward award by K-State alumnus and former BCI employee José Valles, and his wife, Areli Monarrez, at the research symposium. This is the first time this award has been given.
The DSP has helped promote undergraduate research for 15 years and has placed nearly 350 students of color or first-generation college students with research faculty, campus-wide. The program provides a motivated peer group, and a positive and supportive climate along with a network of mentors who will help guide students to a rewarding future.
A conjoined program of the DSP, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Programs (LSAMP), assists in diversifying potential hires entering in science, technology, engineering and math fields. LSAMP promotes recruitment and retention programs in support of increasing the success of underrepresented minority students.
Martinez, who is a member of the DSP and LSAMP, is grateful for the chance to be involved in these programs.
“I would like to thank the LSAMP and DSP for giving me the opportunity to perform undergraduate research and be a part of a wonderful program,” he said. “I gained presentation and networking skills and learned a lot more about research and how to present a poster.”
This collaboration with the College of Agriculture traces back to the early years of the programs where students were placed in animal sciences and industry, in preparation for the veterinary medicine curriculum. According to Anita Cortez, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, students have since been placed in many areas of agriculture from grain science to entomology, plant pathology and agricultural economics.
“These are great fields of pursuit for many of our students, and those with bilingual skills are even more valued in these fields,” she said.
Dr. Chris Reinhardt, assistant director of the BCI, served as the research mentor for Martinez.
“Socorro is very dedicated and a hard worker,” Reinhardt said. “If I had to do it all over again I would hope to get a student just like him.”
Reinhardt advises students to take a hands-on approach to their education.
“Dive right in! Experience is the best teacher,” he said. “My goal is always to give the student an opportunity to learn by doing and I think Socorro did just that.”