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Jul 12,2016

Development of Scientists from Underrepresented Groups in Gould and Dumas Arkansas

by tamekaabaileyphd@yahoo.com

I am Dr. Tameka A. Bailey. I am a Cell and Molecular Biologist and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.  I am originally from Gould, Arkansas.  Gould is a small town in southeast Arkansas. It was a wonderful place to grow up.  I love my community. It has been a lifelong dream to get an education and to position myself to help my community.  In 2015 the University of Arkansas' Women's Giving Circle funded my proposal to develop a biomedical research girls for junior high female students from Gould and Dumas, Arkansas.  The reason that this camp is so important is because women and minorities are underrepresented in STEM. The literature suggests that the earlier young ladies are exposed to STEM the more likely they are to develop an interest and pursue careers in those areas. I see education as the only viable option to overcome the poverty in my community. We  want these young ladies to obtain a good  college education (and beyond). 

In 2015 and 2016 I hosted a Biomedical Research Girls Camp for female junior high students in Gould and Dumas, Arkansas.  In 2015 the camp was held in Dumas, Arkansas for 6 days. During that time the young ladies conducted experiments in dentistry, cardiology, phlebotomy,  and oncology.  At the end of the week, the students presented their data to their families and the community at a science fair.  Also they toured laboratories at Jefferson Regional Medical Center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas and the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas

In 2016, we provided on-campus laboratory research experience to 14 female junior high school students from Gould and Dumas, Arkansas. The majority of the campers also participated in the 2015 camp.  The  intent of the 2016 camp was  to alleviate some of the apprehensions these young women may have entering a campus environment while  also fostering a desire to pursue their college education at the University of Arkansas and careers in  STEM by including them into my research program. The students lived in  a dormitory on the U of A campus. They toured the Amazeum and Crystal Bridges museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.  They toured the U of A campus and visited the  U of A's Multicultural Center. The young ladies conducted research in a U of A laboratory. They conducted experiments in ecology, oncology, cardiology, urology, medical microbiology, ophthalmology or cardiology.  They hosted a luncheon for members of the Women's Giving Circle at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks in Springdale, AR. They also used the data from their research projects to develop a poster display at a computer lab located at the U of A's Mullins Library.  They displayed their posters at a science fair in Dumas, Arkansas. The  science fair was attended by the camper's families and members of the community.  The science fair was held at Sonflour Bakery. A local small business. 

The young ladies are already asking about next year's camp. Two of the fourteen participants were invited  to return to the U of A to attend the ACT Academy. The Academy prepares students for the ACT test.  The Academy is hosted by the Multicultural Center.  These young ladies love science and want to pursue careers in STEM. They really want to attend college. 

I am not funded for next year. Hopefully I can find a mechanism to continue to support this camp. The girls want to study STEM, they just need the exposure and opportunity.