Spotlight: H-LSAMP Scholars Program

H-LSAMP guides star scholars
to shining achievement

Gabriel Hurtado and Miguel Cazares (from left to right) are scholars in the H-LSAMP program.

By Catherine Harper

For more than 12 years, the Houston-Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (H-LSAMP) Scholars Program in the College of Science and Engineering at Texas State University has helped students establish careers in scientific and technical fields. For Gabriel Hurtado and Miguel Cazares, scholars in the program and seniors at Texas State, H-LSAMP has led to a world of opportunity.

“I’ve learned that [H-LSAMP] is about diversity,” says Cazares. “It’s about all the diverse people that go into technical fields, and the many opportunities that are there.”

With director Susan Romanella and mentors lighting the way, H-LSAMP scholars — aspiring scientists, doctors, mathematicians and engineers — have bright futures. According to Romanella, the National Science Foundation funded program encourages students to soar to their full potential with its supportive academic environment and plentiful opportunities for faculty mentoring, undergraduate research and internships.

“H-LSAMP is a national model of excellence and encourages students to the best that they can do,” Romanella says. “The program opens doors of opportunity to students to enrich their portfolio, grow personally with group activities and  prepare their résumé for after college.”

For Hurtado, H-LSAMP has paved the way to his career goal of attending medical school with a positive and encouraging atmosphere.

“H-LSAMP is an enabler,” Hurtado says. “[Ms. Romanella] and the mentors are always checking up on us. Everyone’s always doing something, and they really encourage us to get out there.”

During his academic career, Hurtado has conducted independent undergraduate research with Dr. Dana Garcia, a biology professor in the College of Science and Engineering; participated in the 2011 Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and Student Colloquium conferences; and volunteered at medical facilities in Austin, including Volunteer Healthcare Clinic, Seton Northwest Hospital ER and Buckner Villas Hospice.

In June, Hurtado was one of the five recipients of the prestigious Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) Scholarship, which brought students to the 2011 United Nations Diverse Scholars Forum in Washington, D.C., where they interacted with health care professionals. He credits his extraordinary accomplishments to H-LSAMP’s encouraging atmosphere.

“H-LSAMP provided me with work ethic, research experience, mentor experience, teaching experience and people skills,” Hurtado says. “It also showed me how to make it in the world. I found what I wanted to do for a career here.”

“This program provides opportunities that general students don’t know about,” Hurtado adds. “It provides more knowledge about how many opportunities are out there, and provides strong guidance for getting a job after college. It really just makes the college experience better.”

For Hurtado’s classmate Cazares, a first-generation college student, the supportive environment of H-LSAMP and the encouragement of Romanella and his research mentors have pushed him to a level of success that he had not known he could achieve, leading him to pursue a career as a computer science engineer.

During his academic career, Cazares has conducted undergraduate research with Dr. Reiko Graham, published philosophical essays, won several excellence and service awards at Texas State, and become a member of several honor societies on campus as well as president of Sigma Chi Sigma.

This summer, Cazares conducted computer security research at Colorado State University as part of the Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) program, which matches students with faculty for research at the faculty member’s alma mater.

”The H-LSAMP program and opportunity in Colorado showed me that there is more out there, way more than you think there is,” Cazares says. “There are meaningful things that people do every day and lots of different careers in my field.”

With the largest-ever incoming class this year — 37 students — the H-LSAMP Scholars Program is helping students like Hurtado and Cazares get ahead with full momentum. To learn more about H-LSAMP, visit their website and Facebook page.

This post was updated on August 22, 2011, to correct Dr. Dana Garcia’s title and the full name of the College of Science and Engineering.

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