"The SURGE experience was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to decide if graduate school was really the path that I wanted to embark upon,” said Year 1 Scholar Madison Kane. “After completing SURGE, I knew that I wanted to continue my education after receiving my bachelor's degree."
Every summer, the new class of Year 1 Scholars and Fellows, attend CSULB BUILD’s Summer Undergraduate Research Gateway to Excellence (SURGE 1) program. The purpose of SURGE is to onboard new trainees and give them the information they need on a variety of topics that will help them prepare for the graduate school application process. It gives them a solid foundation for preparing for a career in research. This year SURGE 1 was led by Dr. Jesse Dillon from CNSM and Dr. Perla Ayala from COE with contributions from Dr. Kim Vu and Dr. Guido Urizar from the Dept. of Psychology, Dr. Jose Rodriguez from Communications, and Dr. Mara Bird from the Center for Latino Community Health, as well as many others.
Many of the new recruits learned about CSULB BUILD through fellow CSULB students, including those who participated in either the Associates or Scholars program previously.
"I learned about the BUILD program through two classmates that were currently in the program,” said Year 1 Scholar Norah Nyangau. “I was interested in the fact that I would be able to work in a research lab as early as undergraduate level and in a lab that I was very fascinated in. Already intending to do research and go to graduate school, I was ecstatic to know I would be able to do that so soon."
Others learned about it through the outreach efforts organized by Alex Garbanati, our BUILD Outreach Coordinator. "One of the BUILD managers went to one of my classes and explained there was a job opportunity for research,” said Year 1 Scholar Joel Sandoval. “I knew it would be a good experience to take advantage of because I had never done research. I wanted to quit my restaurant job and actually do something that could help my future."
One of the benefits of the BUILD program is empowering students to totally focus on their research without being distracted by a non-related job. "I wanted to be able to focus full-time (meaning no part-time job on the side) on biochemistry,” said Year 1 Scholar Diego Velarde. “I was interested in BUILD and the similar RISE program, and took the opportunity to get ahead in my education."
SURGE Provides a Variety of Valuable Experiences
“Before SURGE, I was unaware of how extensive the graduate school application process would be,” said Kane. “My SURGE experience has allowed me to meet new individuals who are also interested in obtaining a Ph.D. and learning more about the research process.”
One of the benefits of SURGE is the ability to network with fellow students who are also pursuing a career in research. "I met a lot of like-minded students who want to do research to better the world,” said Nyangau. “I have learned so much about what research is and how it can be used to help so many people in the world."
One of the activities included in SURGE is the Elevator Speech Contest, which gives trainees the opportunity to hone their craft of explaining their research to both scientific and lay audiences. "Through SURGE, I am better able to understand the process of sharing the research that I do, as well as how to go about getting internships," said Year 1 Scholar Megan Walsh.
And, of course, there is the hands-on research in the lab that is an important part not only of SURGE but of the CSULB BUILD program as a whole. "I have received authentic lab research experience, and was introduced into the environment of a Ph.D. track student,” said Velarde. “Being part of a program like BUILD makes it incredibly easier to navigate all the steps from graduating with my bachelor’s to being prepared to move onto a graduate degree."
"I feel as if I was able to get a more clearly defined path for achieving my goals,” said Year 1 Scholar Ruben Luevano, “and the necessary steps I must take along the way."
"I have learned about grad school so much more than I ever thought I would this summer,” said Sandoval. “It’s given me a sense of urgency to do better in the fall."
SURGE Provides Valuable Experience
SURGE " was an awesome experience where I was able to meet a cool bunch of individuals and find out all the different kinds of research that occurs on campus,” said Luevano. “I was able to get information on what I need to help me achieve my goals."
Sandoval said, "It was a good experience for my future and I'm very grateful for the doors it has opened."
"It was the first time I have really felt like I’ve accomplished a large goal on the path to my career,” said Velarde. “It set me up to be successful, and provided me with knowledge of significant resources of which I can take advantage"
SURGE and CSULB BUILD Are Worth Sharing with Others
Recent SURGE participants agreed that this program is worth participating in. "I definitely would recommend participating in SURGE,” said Nyangau, “especially if the research world is new to you. I've learned so much about the process of applying to graduate programs and
tailoring programs searches (location, mentoring type, research focus) to your preferences."
Luevano appreciated how SURGE balanced both personal and technical skills. “It helps you get exposed to what it means to be a researcher and you are able to get used to it before the overwhelming workload that comes with an academic semester."
"I would recommend SURGE to others,” said Kane. “I believe that I have learned a great deal about graduate school and have made many important friends through this program.”