Association Affairs

EntryPoint! places students with disabilities on STEM tracks

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Science  28 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6251, pp. 938
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6251.938-a

In the 10 weeks that Rose Buchmann worked at The Mayo Clinic this summer, the college junior got a chance to try out new lab techniques and learn more about what a full-time career in science looks like. The internship, arranged by AAAS's EntryPoint! program, also gave Buchmann a chance to make lasting connections with the people she hopes will be her future colleagues.

Rose Buchmann

PHOTO: ANGELA MOUREAU

“It was good to meet people in my field and people related to what I'll actually be doing in my career,” said Buchmann, who is studying biomedical engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. “Having an opportunity to get an internship like this, it really gets your name out there and you get to network a little bit.”

Buchmann is one of 27 students who worked as 2015 EntryPoint! interns at places like NASA, Georgia Tech, and Johns Hopkins University. Launched in 1996, the historic AAAS program has recruited students with disabilities who are studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to work in industry, universities, and government agencies.

As EntryPoint! approaches its 20th anniversary, it stands as a singularly successful career launching pad. There are more than 580 alumni in the program, “and out of that number, we know that over 80% are now working in STEM fields,” said Laureen Summers, the program's coordinator. Other programs such as the federal Workforce Recruitment Program help college students with disabilities enter the workforce, but Summers said that EntryPoint! is the only such program to focus on STEM jobs.

The program is planning a luncheon and panel at the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting to celebrate its two decades' of work, coinciding with new efforts to bring together alumni who can act as mentors to the new cohorts of EntryPoint! applicants.

Buchmann has vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that weakens connective tissues and major blood vessels. She said that the Mayo Clinic's Office of Diversity was very supportive of her throughout her internship. “It was great for me to meet everyone and do the research, but it wasn't just the work that I liked,” she recalled. “Just getting out and having something productive to do with your summer is so much fun.”

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