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Lehman College Bronx STEM Scholars Program Student Projects 2015

Alrasheed Althour

My name is Alrasheed Althour and I plan to study and get my Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. I was born in New York but I was not raised here. My family moved to Yemen when I was two years old and I was raised there until I finished high school. After I finished high school, I persuaded my parents to move back to the United States so that I could get a better education. I believed that once I was back in the United States all doors would be open to me. However, the first barrier I faced was a language barrier since Arabic is the language spoken there. Even though I was born here, I had never truly learned English and I could not communicate with people, and therefore had a difficult time making any friendships.


My goal is to be an Engineer, to make an impact upon the world I live in and to be conceiving of and developing new ways to address issues that are facing the world and the people living in it. STEM Scholars Program will allow me to pursue these goals, as it will help me to understand how science can make an impact on society. I am passionate now about my dreams and I plan to use all the skills I have learned inside and outside of the STEM Scholars Program to help me achieve them.


Lastly, I would like to sincerely thank my mentors, Prof. Donna McGregor and Dr. Gustavo Lopez for their efforts and their patience with us. Although there was a lot of work to be done for the research we did, they made it enjoyable and understandable so that I and my fellow students could quickly grasp the details of the material.  View Poster

Afito Djokoto

My name is Afito Djokoto. I was born and raised in Togo (West Africa). I am a student at Bronx Community College and my major is Liberal Art and Science (Option Chemistry). In my country, we have the opportunity to choose our educational field during high school. That enabled me to choose science major early. Mathematics and chemistry have been my passion since I was a little girl. This passion instilled in me a burning desire to become a Pharmacist. My goal is to have a Bachelor degree in chemistry and pursue a Doctoral degree in pharmacy.


I am very glad to be part of the STEM program because it was a great opportunity for me to explore real applications of chemistry and to have laboratory experience. The skills that I have acquired from this program have allowed me to become more proficient in reading and more confident in public presentations. The STEM program has helped me to develop more interests in research, especially in the domain of cancer. Genuine thanks to my mentor Dr. Prabodhika Mallikaratchy for her attention and advise. Her passion and dedication to research has given me courage to chase my goal.


I would like to express a sincere gratitude to the departments of chemistry (Lehman College and Bronx Community College), Dr. Joseph Rachlin (STEM program coordinator) and Dr. Neal Phillip (Bronx Community College) for this wonderful opportunity. View Poster

Ordy Gnewou

Cameroonian native, my name is Ordy Gnewou, I came to America one year ago looking at pursuing my higher learning in science. I started the spring 2015 semester at Hostos Community College where I learned about the American academic system; then I get a chance to be a part of an incredible summer experience.


According to Albert Einstein, “Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that's precise, predictive and reliable - a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional.” Not without facing any challenge, in less than a summer session I finally understand the meaning of those words.


Being a part of the Bronx STEM Scholar experience I was lucky enough to discover science from different perspectives. First as a fantastic human experience in which I learned how to work as a part of a team surrounded by excellent mentors who became my Lehman family, then as an incredible process that made me face many obstacles and overcome my limits, considering the fact that I didn’t even understand the tittle of the experiment I was supposed to conduct finally ending up by doing everything without any advice and last as a wonderful transformation both empowering and emotional.
I would not end without saying thank you to the whole Lehman College and Hostos Community College team. My mentors Pr. Gustavo Lopez and Pr. Donna McGregor for their unconditional support, motivation and patience during the entire sessions.


It was such an amazing summer that I finally decide to transfer to Lehman College for the following semester. If anybody got a chance to be a part of such a beautiful experience, don’t hesitate!!! Do it. View Poster

Gladys Hankelsys Gutierrez

My name is Gladys Hankelsys Gutierrez. I am from Dominican Republic. Shortly after completing my high school education, I moved to the Bronx, New York. Currently, I am a full time student and part time employee at Hostos Community College (HCC). Not without overcoming many obstacles as a single mother of two, I will be graduating from HCC with an associate in Liberal Arts and Science. During the past two years I have developed a great appreciation and interest for the sciences.

The STEM program has been truly a blessing for me. However, my first day in the lab, I felt confused and intimidated of what I didn't understand, which was everything. Determined not to return, I called the head of the program Dr. Rachlin and requested to be transferred to a research I was more familiar with. At his request, I gave my mentors a chance to guide me, and now know I couldn't be more satisfied with our research. It has given me a deeper passion for the science field. With that in mind, I want nothing more than to continue this research and further my education the chemistry field.

I'm deeply thankful of my mentors Prof. McGregor and Prof. Lopez for their patience and dedication to us. They were always available when we needed them and for that I will be eternally grateful. View Poster

Yardley Martinez

My name is Yardley Martinez. I am a born and raised New Yorker, son of former Mexican immigrants who have since attained their citizenship. Together with my brother, we are the first of our family to have attended college. My educational journey thus far has not been easy, but thanks to the support of my family, friends, and teachers I have been thriving in Bronx Community College where I plan to graduate with an associate’s degree in chemistry.

The STEM Scholars Program has given me the unique opportunity of working in a laboratory under the direction of an expert in the field, and I knew from the first day of the program that I would be working with Dr. Renuka Sankaran whose research into plant physiology immediately grabbed my attention. There is a myriad of potential information to be discovered from the study of plants, from biofuels and medicine, to solutions for environmental and nutrition problems, and I fully intend to be a part of that discovery. Under the firm but welcomed guiding hand of Dr. Sankaran, who stressed the importance of both knowledge and understanding, I have taken my first steps into the scientific field proper and the results have been illuminating and exciting. The STEM Scholars Program has undoubtedly created a solid foundation that will prove invaluable when I continue into a four-year college.

I would like to thank the chairman of the chemistry department at Bronx Community College, Dr. Neal Phillip, who recommended me to the program not five minutes after meeting me for the first time. I would also thank director of the STEM Scholars Program Dr. Joseph W. Rachlin for the time and energy he invests in order to make the program a success. I would especially like to thank my mentor, Dr. Renuka Sankaran, for all her patience and guidance, and for allowing me to partake in both her laboratory and her wealth of knowledge. Finally, I would thank the rest of the mentors who gave the same opportunities to the rest of my peers, and Michael Tavarez, PhD student, whose valuable input, support, and guidance in the greenhouse and laboratory are deeply appreciated. View Poster

Welbeck Sowah

My name is Welbeck Sowah. I was born and raised in Ghana and currently live in New York City. I relocated to New York in 2013 to further my education and pursue a college degree. I am currently attending Bronx Community College (BCC) as Liberal Arts and Science major with a concentration in Biology. Every journey in life begins with a step and Bronx Community College is one of the steps I have taken to achieve my goal of becoming a general surgeon. I am enthusiastic about learning and BCC has helped me experience and learn more about the educational system here in the United States, thus propelling me to succeed at a four-year institution. My immediate short term goal is to graduate from BCC with honors.

Being part of the STEM Scholar program at Lehman College has been a tremendous experience to me. This program has not only enhanced my professional skills but has taught me how to be an outstanding student and a true scientist. I have learned new skills, such as the design of primers for specific genes, the usage of a quantitative PCR instrument, the collection of useful information from large amounts of raw data and overall, how to be efficient in a Lab. The knowledge, experience and valuable skills I acquired from partaking in this program is very nearly priceless and I would urge students interested in STEM related fields, from participating Bronx CUNY schools, to partake in this life changing program.

I am grateful for this opportunity given to me to participate in this program. I am confident that my experiences and studies will help me transcend to higher levels in my academic and career life. I want to express my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Joseph Rachlin (Lehman College), Dr. Neal Phillip (Bronx Community College, BCC), and Dr. Charles Maliti (Bronx Community College) for the wonderful opportunity given to me, and I would like to say a heartfelt thanks to my mentor, Dr. Renuka Sankaran, Michael Tavarez (Graduate student) and Yardley Martinez ( BCC Undergraduate student). View Poster

Graciela Vivar

My name is Graciela Vivar; I was born and raised in New York. My parents migrated from Mexico to New York to seek better opportunities for our family. My father was the first to come and then after two years, my mother and 5 year old brother came in 1994. I was born In 1995, we lived with 8 other family members in a one room apartment until I was seven. Growing up my parents always told me that education could take me far, giving me the tools for a profession. I always felt as though I should never be ungrateful for the opportunities America has given me. In Mexico education isn’t free and that prevented my parents from getting further education which is why they decided to come to new York.

During my childhood I remember always being happy about going to the doctor’s office, I was just so fascinated by the environment and ever since then I’ve had this dream about working at a hospital. When I began my sophomore year in high school I started questioning myself more about what I really wanted to do with my future and if medical school was something I wanted to pursue. I got discouraged by the amount of years it would take to complete, however when I got to senior year I took an art class that dealt with anatomy and hearing my teacher always repeat “the whole is equal to the sum of its parts”, it enhanced my interest more about going to medical school. I’m currently attending Bronx Community College, going into my sophomore year. I’m very grateful for being able to participate in the STEM Program and for Professor Sauane allowing me to work with her in her research. I’ve learned so much and the experience has been great. View Poster