The Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science (L@S GANAS) Program

The word “ganas” in Spanish means “motivation sufficient to act.” The title “L@S GANAS”, was inspired by the movie “Stand and Deliver”. It depicted a true life story of a teacher in LA who inspired his underserved and underperforming students to work together to overcome stumbling blocks to their education and growth. In a motivational talk to his students he said, “You’re going to work harder here than you’ve ever worked anywhere else. And the only thing I ask from you is *ganas.* *Desire.*”

The Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science (L@S GANAS) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago was created with a Hispanic Serving Institution STEM grant from the US Department of Education. UIC is one of a handful of research intensive universities to achieve Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status.

L@S GANAS exists to ensure that Latinx students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) succeed at UIC. It seeks to increase the number of Latinx professionals in the STEM field, provide financial assistance to Latinx students, increase retention of Latinx students in the STEM majors, and foster a community where Latinx students see their cultural heritage as an asset in the lab.

The program caters to Latinx undergraduates who have an interest in STEM. It supports the whole student; both their strong ties to their heritage as Latin@s as well as their emerging identity as scientists.

The two overarching goals for the L@s GANAS program are:

  1. Improve outcomes for Latin@ and low-income students STEM, including academic performance as well as persistence and graduation rate.
  2. Increase enrollment of Latin@ STEM students, This is achieved with an innovative program model that not only supports the success of Latin@ STEM students at UIC, but also engages the Latin@ community on campus more broadly to increase levels of science literacy.

We also provide Latin@ students with:

  1. Undergraduate Research Opportunities enabling students to engage in campus research and participate in the larger scientific research community
  2. Holistic supports granting students access to transition coaches who meet with them regularly, help them to articulate their challenges, and then assist them with connecting to the appropriate support systems on campus
  3. Supportive networks of faculty and peers helping Latin@ students connect with networks of peers, faculty, family, and community that collectively provide them with academic, personal, and social support.
  4. Active and collaborative learning opportunities in the STEM courses offering faculty a range of professional development opportunities related to formative assessment and inquiry-based learning approaches.
  5. Financial support offering students up to $5000 annually in need-based aid. This stipend, together with the financial aid package that students receive from UIC, allows them to focus full-time on their studies without having to work a part-time job that is not related to their long-term career goals. In exchange for this financial support, students agree to participate in a number of L@S GANAS program activities each semester, for a total of four semesters.

 

Why Latinx? Latinx (pronounced “La-TEEN-ex”) is a gender-inclusive way of referring to people of Latin American descent. This includes people who identify as Latin@, Latino, Latina, Hispanic, Latin American, Hispanic American, Chicano, Chicana, etc.