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At UBC, Indigenous students discover science careers for a summer

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar24,2024


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Shana George (left) participated in the seed2STEM program in 2019. She is now in her second year studying biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.


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A program at the University of British Columbia (UBC) allows young Indigenous people to do paid summer internships in laboratories. The goal is to attract more Indigenous people to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

The program, titled seed2STEM, was created by the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), a spinal cord injury research center supported by the UBC Faculty of Medicine and the ;Vancouver Coastal Health Authority Research Institute.

Summer internships last 6 weeks and take place in research laboratories on UBC’s Okanagan and Vancouver campuses. They are aimed at indigenous students in grades 9 to 12. Participants contribute to short-term research projects and take part in weekly learning modules and field trips, says a press release from UBC.

The main goal is to create a bridge to STEM and help remove barriers to post-secondary education for Indigenous youth in British Columbia, says Corree Laule, associate director of education for ICORD and co-founder of the seed2STEM program. Our research teams at UBC also benefit from the knowledge, lived experience and energy that students bring to the lab.

The program launched in 2018. At the time, there had only been one intern. Last summer, there were 19 – 15 at the Vancouver campus and 4 at the Okanagan campus.

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Shana George, a member of the Squamish First Nation, participated in 2019. She was in 11th grade at the time. It was really great because it was my first job,” recalls the woman who is now a second-year biology student at UBC. It meant a lot to me. It opened my eyes to the world.

It’s great to be able to get young people into the swing of things like that. They can realize that science is really cool, and that it’s not just math! And after that, getting into college is less scary.

A quote from 2019 program participant Shana George

Interns receive stipends, travel passes and loaner laptops. We want to try to reduce barriers to participation in the program by covering student costs where possible, says Cheryl Niamath, ICORD communications and administration manager and co-founder of seed2STEM.

We hope to be able to obtain long-term funding to ensure the sustainability of the program for future students, continues Ms. Niamath. Seed2STEM recently received two years of funding from the UBC Faculty of Medicine Strategic Investment Fund to expand the program to the faculty this summer, a university release said .

Shana George also hopes that the program will continue. She plans to continue her studies at medical school to become a doctor or researcher. I hope this type of program will be extended elsewhere, so that it opens the eyes of Indigenous students across Canada.

The summer 2024 seed2STEM program will run from July 2 to August 9, according to a UBC press release. The registration deadline is April 2, but applications will be accepted until early May, depending on availability.

With information from Renée Lukacs

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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