PASADENA, Texas – There are many reasons for Brianna Siller of Pasadena to be excited this year as she graduates with her associate degree from San Jacinto College in May. For one, she's been accepted to the University of Houston and the University of Houston-Clear Lake to study forensic chemistry. Second, she's jumpstarting that university transfer with a summer internship at Rice University to study the reprogramming of cells and how they can adapt to avoid various diseases.
"I'm proud to be a STEM major, especially as a Latina," said Siller. "I want to inspire others."
Siller has accomplished a lot in her two short years of community college. She is a recipient of a Houston Chemical Association scholarship, a National Science Foundation-Bridge to STEM Careers scholarship, the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (T-STEM) scholarship, and the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) scholarship. She has also been selected to the NASA Aerospace Scholars program this semester to work with a team of fellow students to study Mars and create a prototype of a rover for a Mars mission proposal.
Siller began at San Jacinto College studying criminal justice, but decided to change her career path as she became interested in working in the chemistry laboratory. "My professors made science very interesting, and I quickly found that I just enjoyed being in the laboratory," said Siller, who once served as president of the Pasadena Junior Police Academy. "I knew then that forensic chemistry was right for me. I want to process evidence one day and be a part of the solution in helping people get justice."
Turning students toward STEM careers is most likely to happen through the many STEM service learning activities the College hosts each semester, according to Dr. Ann Cartwright, chemistry professor and San Jacinto College STEM Council chair. She said Siller has participated in such science outreach projects as the Pasadena Independent School District's science fair, the Iman Academy science fair, serving as a mentor to an elementary school science student, and serving as a tutor.
"Brianna has set herself apart in many ways, which has helped her to achieve in STEM education within a short amount of time," said Dr. Cartwright, who also served as Siller's mentor. "She has volunteered for numerous STEM service learning activities, and this has allowed her and others to experience real-world application of the STEM concepts. By doing so, this places our students ahead of the curve and prepares them for the next big step of transferring to a university and research with such programs as the Rice University summer internship program."
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.