In the past year, we have recruited and trained a cohort of diverse student interns from our host campus at California State University and from our community college partners, MiraCosta College and San Diego Miramar College. These students performed stem cell research at local institutions, including UCSD, as well as biotechnology companies, such as Thermofisher. The students also engaged in community outreach at High Tech Middle North County and some were able to engage in patient advocacy in programs interns identified on their own. Despite shutdowns and other pandemic related closures, our interns were able to successfully complete their full year in virtual and limited face-to-face activities. This included successful poster presentations at the International Society for Stem Cell Research and Bridges annual conferences, both held virtually. The CSUSM intern experience is a holistic program to train the next generation of stem cell scientists.
The composition of the 11th cohort reflects the diversity of our student population, including our partnering campuses, MiraCosta and San Diego Miramar Colleges. Of the 10 interns, 7 of them are women, 2 Asian and American Indian, 1, Middle Easterner, 1 African American/Black, 5 Caucasian, and 1 Hispanic/Latinx. Six percent are first generation college students and 2 were military veterans with an age range from 20-41. Additionally, many of our interns are non-traditional students. We therefore believe that the strategic partnering with the community college campuses, our own unique campus compositions, and our location in Southern California has allowed us to successfully recruit and support a diverse cohort of trainees.