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Reflections on the JEDI Biocollections Scholars Program by Iran Esquivel

Posted by kmyule on July 26, 2022 - 6:28pm in Undergraduate Students

This is a guest post by 2022 JEDI Biocollections Summer Scholars Program alum, Iran Esquivel.

What did I think about my experiences with the JEDI Scholars program?

In my head, for the longest time, “scientist” meant engineers, chemists, and the occasional geneticists. Science had to be moving and man had to be in charge for me to call something science. My parents couldn’t tell me what a scientist did, they had only known customer service, and my cousins had only ever seen lab coats on TV. We know what mechanics do, they fix cars. Construction workers dig and lay concrete, cooks chop veggies and sear meats, accountants file taxes and read statements, tailors trim and sew, and scientists… stare at tubes and vials? Nobody I knew could tell me, but my parents knew it was very important for the world. Still, the lack of guidance and being the first in my community to find out was intimidating. The JEDI Scholars program seemed to answer my question though.

Iran's photos of learning plant identifications

The JEDI Scholars program granted me experience. It showed me the other forms of work a scientist could take on and broadened the term to validate data observation and analysis at different levels. I was given the incredible opportunity to work alongside professionals in their field. I got to learn what a botanist did and got to be one. It was fascinating seeing the real day-to-day tasks of scientists and noting the practical use of their knowledge and skills, not only in their area of study but also through the practice of the job.

My biggest takeaway is the importance of experience. I only ever had vague fantasy ideas in my head about jobs I could do with a biology degree, but through the program I got to see the day in the life of those who currently work where I see myself in the future. I now have a real idea as to what a job in science is.

Iran's photos of a beetle and the desert

 I never had this experience before, but experience sparks curiosity and the engagement becomes passion. It is important for people to experience the world around them. Resources and programs like the JEDI Biocollections Scholars Program give people the access to a new world; different types of jobs, specialized interests with meaning, it is first hand experience that tells someone whether or not they enjoy what they are doing. 

One goal of the program is to help people feel comfortable in science communities. There were many professionals I got to meet that validated community scientists and respected their importance to global science. The experience was unparalleled and impactful in my decision to continue pursuing my biology degree with a tangible goal and realistic career options. 

The BioKIC blog will be featuring posts by our program alumni. These posts will be outlining some of the highlights of the ASU Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Biocollections Summer Scholars Program. Stay tuned, and check out the website created by the scholars to showcase their work: