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Kathia Antillon - UROC/McNair Achievement Program

Kathia AntillonIn the past year, I have had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium (UROC) at the University of Arizona (UA). This program, sponsored by the Graduate College, provides low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students the resources to become a competitive applicant for graduate school. As a consortium, there are many programs that fall under the UROC umbrella, but I was a part of their Ronald E. McNair Achievement program, a nationally recognized research program for undergraduate students funded by the US Department of Education.

As a part of the UROC McNair curriculum, I participated in a class that helped me to narrow my research focus and obtain a UA research mentor for both my summer research work and my Honors Thesis. During the summer, I was able to fully engage in the research experience through a 10-week summer program funded by the UROC McNair Program. It was during this time that I more fully outlined my research focus, finding alternative forms of pain treatment, with the graduate students in the lab and was able to actually begin researching. Having the opportunity to create my own project and work towards my goal under the guidance of my mentor and the other graduate students gave me a small taste of what graduate school was going to be like, and I knew that I was on the right path for my future. Every lab experience, whether it be a good synthesis or an accidental failure, enriched my understanding of what research was and made me excited for my future.

At the end of the summer, each student participating in the UROC programs presented their research and findings in front of their cohort with an oral and poster presentation. Family, friends, and faculty are all invited to learn more about what everyone has done as a part of their summer research. In addition to these presentations, as a part of the McNair program, I and the rest of my cohort, had the opportunity to share our research with other scholars at the National McNair Scholars Conference at UCLA. Being able to share my research with a students from across the country, in addition to exploring a top-tier university and networking with others there, made participating in the conference an unforgettable experience.

I had thought my amazing experience with UROC would end after the Fall 2018 semester, where they helped me outline my personal statement and made my application the strongest it could be, but I was mistaken. The UROC program caught the attention of KGUN9, a local Tucson news source, and they wanted to feature some of their students in the research program. As the student chosen to be featured for their news special, I had the chance to share my research interests, as well as my short- and long-term goals with the Tucson community. I know that without the UROC McNair program, I would not have the resources or the knowledge on how to apply to graduate school and obtain my PhD in Organic Chemistry. Through their support, as well as the support of my family and friends, I will be able to attend graduate school, obtain my PhD, and hopefully come back to Tucson to teach at the UA and encourage others to pursue their dreams.
KGUN9 News Article:
https://www.kgun9.com/news/local-news/ua-program-helps-under-represented-students-pursue-phds-work-in-tucson

Kathia Antillon