SACNAS at Clemson — Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science  — is helping S.C. youth become part of the university's scientific culture.One of Thomas Green Clemson’s goals for Clemson University, according to his will, was “developing the material resources of the State by affording to its youth the advantages of a scientific culture. …” One group of Clemson graduate students is a living example of how the University’s reach into South Carolina communities helps the state’s youth find and become part of that scientific culture.

Graduate students from the Clemson chapter of Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) tutor local high school students in science as part of the Bridges to a Brighter Future program at the Riley Institute at Furman University, while also acting as important role models for academic success.

“We heard about the Bridges program from a Clemson undergrad who had been part of the program when he was in high school. He told us they were always looking for more tutors,” says Kattia Blanco, a Ph.D. candidate in food technology who serves as the SACNAS outreach coordinator. “We have gained so much during our time at Clemson that we’re proud and happy to help other students get to where we are.”

It’s working: Two of the high school students SACNAS worked with last year are enrolling at Clemson this fall, with several others going to other colleges and universities. These are students who have the talent to attend college but might not have had the opportunities or support to navigate enrollment. Or they may not have even thought that a career in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field was possible.

Many of the SACNAS graduate students were introduced to Clemson through the graduate school’s International Ambassador program, in which top students are recruited from Latin America and invited to serve as ambassadors for the University locally and in their home countries.

“This is a perfect example of how outreach propagates itself,” says Bob Lippert, a professor in the School of Agricultural, Forest and Environmental Sciences who serves as the coordinator of the international ambassadors program. “We recruited some excellent students in Latin America; they came to Clemson and helped to recruit other excellent students from their home countries, and now they are all reaching out to local minority high school students as tutors and mentors.”

The Clemson SACNAS chapter recently received the Bridge Builder Award from the Bridges program at Furman, in recognition of their important and consistent support and participation.

For more information about the Clemson SACNAS chapter, visit their Facebook page.