Newswise — The University of Illinois Chicago’s Latin@s Gaining Access to Networks for Advancement in Science, or L@s GANAS, initiative has been named a recipient of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award.

UIC and L@s GANAS received the award because of their dedication and leadership in fostering diversity, equity and inclusion on campus and in the classroom and, in particular, by advancing the number of Latinx students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, said Amalia Pallares, associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity at UIC.

“We are honored that UIC’s commitment to educating a more diverse generation of future STEM leaders has been recognized by INSIGHT to Diversity magazine,” Pallares said.

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Pallares pointed to L@s GANAS as a program that focuses on increasing the number of Latinx students with degrees in the STEM fields. It is housed within UIC’s Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Affairs and Academic Programs, partners with the Rafael Cintrón Latino Cultural Center, the UIC Office of Diversity, UIC Student Affairs, Hispanic Center of Excellence, Math and Science Learning Center and the Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services Program. The program embodies key priorities at UIC: diversity, equity, inclusion, student success, and inclusive teaching and mentoring.

“We are thrilled to be recognized for our multifaceted initiatives developed to encourage, support and celebrate the success of Latinx students interested in STEM fields and professions,” said Aixa Alfonso, principal investigator and UIC associate professor of biological sciences. “This award is a feather in the cap of our hardworking students, committed staff, leadership team and the institution.”

The focus of L@s GANAS is to support UIC students to successfully engage in and obtain degrees in STEM fields. Along with other UIC programs, it is interested in fostering a sense of belonging among students and providing practical strategies and experiences that support their professional development.

“Through the program, L@s GANAS Fellows recognize the importance and relevancy of their unique backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, and incorporate those personal elements into their academic careers making them better scientists. Many of our students are motivated as Latinx citizen-scientists to give back to their communities,” said Veronica Arreola, L@s GANAS program director.

“This award recognizes the high-quality, collaborative and holistic effort by the L@s GANAS program that cultivates the potential of Latinx undergraduates in STEM fields by providing various opportunities, including mentoring and engagement in research,” said Nikos Varelas, vice provost for undergraduate affairs and academic programs and distinguished professor of physics. “The L@s GANAS program has transformed the educational experience and success of participating students at UIC.”

The magazine, which is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that “demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.” The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the STEM fields. UIC will be featured along with 49 other recipients in the September 2020 issue of the magazine.

Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of the magazine, said a focus of the award is to highlight the many STEM programs and recognize them for their, “success, dedication, and mentorship for underrepresented students.

“We want to honor the schools and organizations that have created programs that inspire and encourage young people who may currently be in or are interested in a future career in STEM,” Pearlstein said.

UIC is an Asian-American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, or AANAPISI, and has been designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution, or HSI, by the U.S. Department of Education. UIC is one of only 16 Research 1 HSI institutions in the country, and the majority of its undergraduates are eligible to receive Federal Pell Grants.

A call for nominations for this award was announced in April 2020.

For more information about the 2020 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award and INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, visit insightintodiversity.com.