Yo Soy STEM Director Claudia Diaz Carrasco, middle, shows students around the S-401 study space and talks about Yo Soy STEM on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Photo by Keila Menjivar Zamora/City Times Media
Yo Soy STEM Director Claudia Diaz Carrasco, middle, shows students around the S-401 study space and talks about Yo Soy STEM on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. Photo by Keila Menjivar Zamora/City Times Media

City College STEM program hosts open-house-style event to share mission

The Yo Soy STEM program seeks to support Latinx students by providing resources, strengthening identity

Brightly colored balloons and rhythmic reggaeton hits provided the backdrop for San Diego City College students who attended the open-house-style event hosted by Yo Soy STEM on Nov. 7.

Students played robot soccer over a foosball-sized mat on the floor, controlling their ball from an iPad. Each student aimed to score a goal before their opponent using the remote on the tablet. 

The event, which was held outside room S-401, was organized by Yo Soy STEM’s core team: Director Claudia Diaz Carrasco, Acting Support Technician Cecilia Thibeault, and Program Coordinator Lawson Hardrick-Cervantes.

Yo Soy STEM is a federal program that aims to provide integrated support services, according to the City College website. 

For Diaz Carrasco, who was born and raised in Mexico, the mission is personal. 

She began her master’s program in international agriculture development at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla and was offered an opportunity to finish her master’s degree at Oklahoma State.

“That’s when I realized that being a woman in STEM was (a rarity),” said the director of Yo Soy STEM. “I decided to make a career of helping people like me feel like they are welcome in the sciences, but also that they can be successful.” 

Yo Soy STEM is similar to MESA, in that they’re both designed to support students in STEM majors. However, where MESA students have to meet eligibility requirements and commit to the MESA philosophy, Yo Soy STEM uses a “passport” approach. 

“Our programs are open to all the students and they’re open to attend any of those sessions,” Hardrick-Cervantes said. “That’s where they get a chance to self-author their own identity in terms of what they choose to participate in.” 

Yo Soy STEM currently has three student tutors for math and they expect to have two more tutors helping with biology and chemistry, wrote Hardrick-Cervantes in an email. 

During the summer, the program hosts a bridge program at UCSD where students have the opportunity to explore STEM-related careers, learn about the transfer process, and connect with Latinx faculty and staff. 

Academic support leaders will also offer concept-based tutoring sessions next semester, where they will partner with faculty and go over concepts lecture-style so students have access to materials they are using in class, according to Hardrick-Cervantes in the same email. 

“Two main components of our program is academic success, but also developing their STEM identities,” said the Imperial Valley native who identifies as Black and Chicano. “A lot of folks go into these majors and sit in the classrooms, but what else is happening on campus to help spark, develop that STEM identity?”

Students can learn more on Yo Soy STEM’s Instagram, @sdcityhsi, and click on the Linktree in the profile. Prospective applicants can fill out the interest form to let Yo Soy STEM know the programs they are interested in.

“We do all these things because we want (Latinx students) to make their own space in STEM, to feel like they’re a part of it,” said Hardrick-Cervantes.

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