Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Penn State Student Club Fosters Diversity, Community, Professionalism In Earth & Mineral Sciences

Khaleah Jackson arrived at Penn State three years ago as a shy, quiet student. Once on campus, she found a new club — Minorities in Earth and Mineral Sciences (MEMS) — that helped her come out of her shell socially and in developing her professional skill set, she said.

“I feel like I’ve gained that skill of connecting with other people,” said Jackson, a senior majoring in environmental systems engineering who is now president of the club. “I have really broken out of my shell as I get that leadership experience. Now I’m using that experience to try to make MEMS even better for the people to come.”

MEMS was founded in 2019 to promote diversity within the College of Earth and Mineral Science by Bryttani Wooten, then an undergraduate student in meteorology and atmospheric science. 

Wooten graduated in 2021 and is now a doctoral student in geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Since then, the club has continued to grow. It brings together students from diverse backgrounds and gives them a chance to bond and form a tight-knit community, Jackson said.

“We all are different people, we all have different experiences that brought us here,” Jackson said. “But we all feel the need for the togetherness that this community provides, so I say we're the same, but also different.”

For Jackson, MEMS opened doors to experiences she wouldn’t have originally expressed interest in, she said. 

An undergraduate research event last year sparked her interest in research — after listening to other students eagerly describe their projects, getting involved appeared less intimidating and Jackson jumped on an opportunity in the laboratory.

“If I hadn’t joined MEMS, I wouldn't have found this new thing and new direction in the career that I want to go in,” she said.

Jackson said she hopes the growing club continues to provide a strong voice for minorities in EMS and at Penn State as a whole, while helping its members build their social networking, soft skills and communication skills.  

“I want people to take something out of the club and then branch out and give it to other people,” Jackson said. “That’s the nature of the club. I want to connect with another person. I want to hear what they have to say, their perspective. The entire executive board and the members of MEMS, we want to bring that perspective into the workforce, because it means nothing if we just have it in the classroom. We need to take that into the real world. And I think it’s really getting rid of the barrier between people.”

Click Here to watch a related video.

[Penn State also has a Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources Club.

(Reprinted from Penn State News.)

[Posted: September 27, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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