IN LSAMP Coordinator uses Encouragement and Experience as Catalysts for Student Success

Mrs. Donna Stallings is the newest coordinator to join the IN LSAMP alliance. In this role, she is leading her students into STEM arenas across the Midwest. She isn’t waiting for students to find professional development opportunities, her approach is to proactively bring opportunities and events to her cohort of IN LSAMP scholars and work with them individually to prepare a plan to integrate experiences into their academic career. The first step in setting up a student to thrive is building a strong STEM network. Encouraging students to expand their comfort zone and visit college campuses, industry events, and national conferences is the foundation.Stallings IvyTech keynote

Post-secondary education is expected to substantially contribute to the cognitive growth and professional achievement of students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). cited: Nadelson, L.S., et. al., 2017

She may be new but already she is an asset to the IN LSAMP scholars at Ivy Tech Community College.

Ms. Stallings holds a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and an MS degree in Secondary Education. She taught mathematics at Lincoln University in Missouri and has received grants from the National Science Foundation, Texas Instruments, the National Security Agency, the Ohio State University and the Department of Energy.  Ms. Stallings is well acquainted with LSAMP at the national level from her role with MO LSAMP.

Stallings viewing UGR posters at IN LSAMP Annual Conference

Apart from her vast experience, what really stands out is her dedication to student development and passion for student success.  As a first generation college student, she understands that students need encouragement and mentoring to achieve their goals. She takes immense inspiration from her faith and family to provide support as she acts as a catalyst for her scholars.

Sometimes a Little Push is All It Takes

Oriana Esteves-Ruiz is an IN LSAMP Scholar. She joined the program in 2018 and is seeking an AAS in Biotechnology. She has been mentored by Mrs. Stallings since joining the program. This mentorship has set her on the path to realize her dream of pursuing a BS in Biotechnology at IUPUI after graduation.

Mrs. Stallings has broadened her scholar’s experiences outside of campus to include technical symposiums and STEM conferences. Recently, Oriana attended the ABRCMS conference in Indianapolis, which has over 2,000 student attendees. The conference enriched her with ideas for both research and her professional goals.


Oriana Esteves-Ruiz, Fall 2018, IN LSAMP Learning Assistant

“I learned that there is a lot of opportunity for graduate school and a lot of financial help.”  Her networking provided her with contacts around the country, leading her to opportunities for summer internships. Mrs. Stallings will be by her side as she navigates these paths. These experiences and support have inspired her to aim for a PhD. This journey started with encouragement from Dr. Don Pappas, IN LSAMP Campus Director, who encouraged her choice to apply to be an IN LSAMP scholar!

With the support of Donna Stallings, Oriana attended her first National STEM conference. Oriana credits Ms. Stallings with advocating for her to be able to attend ABRCMS 2018.  “I would like to thank her not only for this opportunity but also for the patience, perseverance, knowledge and effort she has put into my development as a student, researcher and a person.  Thank you for giving the extra push when I didn’t even ask for it!”



Oriana Esteves-Ruiz, IN LSAMP Annual Conference, 2018

As a bilingual student and Learning Assistant/Scholar, you can bet that Oriana will carry on in the tradition of Donna Stallings and will continue to pay it forward for future generations of URM STEM students.

References: Nadelson, L. S., McGuire, S. P., Davis, K. A., Farid, A., Hardy, K. K., Hsu, Y. C., … & Wang, S. (2017). Am I a STEM professional? Documenting STEM student professional identity development. Studies in Higher Education42(4), 701-720.

Networking: Reframe the Concept

Nora Gilliam is a Scholar at IUPUI majoring in Chemistry and Epidemiology. She has been an IN LSAMP Scholar since spring, 2018.  She is seeking a BSPH degree in Epidemiology and a BA degree in Chemistry. Nora attended the November 2018 ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students) meeting in Indianapolis where she was awarded the ABRCMS 2018 Presentation Award in Microbiology, an award given to the top 15% presenters of the conference. Over 2,000 students attended this four-day conference from 350 colleges and universities.

Nora Gilliam ABRCMS award spring 2018

Attending the meeting, as they say, ‘is kind of a big deal’. Gilliam coming away with concrete ideas for career advancement and a prize for her presentation is definitely ‘a big deal’.

If networking at a professional conference among a large group of unknown people is not on the top of your wish list or leaves you feeling nervous, you are not alone. However, after hearing feedback on the experience from Gilliam you might be inclined to reconsider. “At ABRCMS, I learned that there are so many young people of diverse backgrounds who are dedicated to science and changing the world as much as I am.  Many of the people I met were so friendly; I think we were all so happy to be around intelligent, science-oriented folks and we all just wanted to see each other succeed. I feel this way when I am with my IUPUI LSAMP cohort mates, but it was just cool to meet people from all over.”

As Gilliam discovered, networking is much easier when fueled by shared interests.

Shared interests lend authenticity to networking situations

Nora points out attending conferences benefits students through meeting potential collaborators, successful scientists, and postgraduate educators. These introductions provides fertile ground for a robust exchange of ideas and perspectives as well as sheer inspiration. A discussion with a faculty member gave Nora ideas about incorporating all of her educational goals and passions – infectious disease, environmental health and health disparities – into her research.

“At the conference, I would say my networking skills definitely got better,” says Nora.  If you tend to view networking as a waste of time or something you are not comfortable doing, try reframing the experience. Focus on what you bring to the table.  One way is to express gratitude to your mentors and to those who have guided your academic path.  Even the highest ranked scientists appreciate knowing that their efforts contributed to a student’s professional growth.

Introverted students can also reframe by taking the focus off their relatively “undeveloped” status and think about talking to people as an exercise to enhance your knowledge and skills. While preparing for the conference, think about what interests you might have in common with other attendees and practice networking with them first. Consider taking some time to research the presenters and workshop, or identify other students with similar research presentations. Being prepared with well-placed questions and observations that others will enjoy hearing will boost your comfort and confidence.

Ease of networking and striking up conversations with others takes practice and patience. It won’t happen overnight, but regularly attending research conferences is definitely a start. – Nora Gilliam, IN LSAMP Scholar IUPUI

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Assessment Institute in Indianapolis

The Assessment Institute in Indianapolis is the nation's oldest and largest event focused exclusively on outcomes assessment in higher education. We anticipate that some 1000 educators from virtually every state and several other countries will take part in the 2018 Institute.

The Assessment Institute in Indianapolis is designed to provide opportunities for (1) individuals and campus teams new to outcomes assessment to acquire fundamental knowledge about the field, (2) individuals who have worked as leaders in outcomes assessment to share and extend their knowledge and skills, and (3) those interested in outcomes assessment at any level to establish networks that serve as sources of support and expertise beyond the dates of the Institute.

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