Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Setting science students up for success

The Science Career Alumni Network (SCAN) provides U of R students with an opportunity to expand their professional development journeys. Together, Professor of Biology Ben Aronson (left) and past Student Director Nicolette Ramirez ’22 tapped staff from the Office of Career and Professional Development to implement a three-part curriculum that optimized the SCAN experience. (Photo by Coco McKown '04, '10)

Led by Biology Professor Ben Aronson and a student director, the Science Career Alumni Network (SCAN) provides University of Redlands students with an opportunity to expand their career and professional development journey in the sciences through a unique mentorship experience.

Students are connected to one of more than 40 participating alumni in different fields. Participants learn first-hand about a particular academic or career path and hear valuable advice to help them determine next steps in their professional path.

“It's that exposure and that extra bit of maturity you get from having those conversations with someone in the field right now and understanding what it's going to take to achieve your goals,” says Jordan Buttner ’21, a past SCAN student organizer who studied mathematics and biology.

During the fall 2020 semester, the SCAN program was originally introduced to students as the Pilot Program. As the pre-health club president at the time, Buttner ’21 was approached by Aronson to assist with the program. Buttner worked on rallying student support and creating his own outline of the program’s curriculum.

Despite the semester being online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching and recruiting students was simple; the new virtual environment made participation in the program more accessible. Buttner created the curriculum, which paired alumni with one first- or second-year student and one third- or fourth-year student. This structure encourages relationships between students across classes and simultaneous mentorship, because older students serve as an additional resource.

Under the leadership of past student organizer and Health, Medicine, and Society (HMS) major Nicolette Ramirez ’22, the SCAN program partnered with the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) to implement a three-part curriculum that optimized the SCAN experience.

Phase one is centered on professional skill-building, where students attend an OCPD presentation about the basics of the SCAN program and how to maximize the potential of a mentorship. Phase two encourages students to make and share career goals, prospective academic road maps, educational bucket lists, and questions for alumni. Phase three requires students to lead at least two interviews with their assigned alumnus, utilizing the questions they developed during the previous phase. If there is only one student in the group, the SCAN program connects the student with OCPD staff members for a one-on-one session.

“We want students to be informed about the pathway they need to get to where they want to go and to have a mentor who can help guide them through some of the decisions they might be unsure about,” Ramirez said.

For the spring 2022 semester, the SCAN program has HMS major Arianna Quiroz ’23 as the student organizer. As a first-generation student, her experience of feeling lost while navigating her undergraduate education as a [Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics] student inspired her to take a leadership role in the program. Quiroz is focused on promoting a positive environment for students to receive support and resources to help them succeed in their chosen careers.

The SCAN program operates every semester and supports high levels of student participation. Students interested in pursuing any science-related career are encouraged to enroll in the program to diversify their career exposure and strengthen their career approach.

“This program demonstrates the importance of networking and allows students an opportunity to receive mentorship from an alum who is willing to share their knowledge and advice,” said Quiroz ‘23.

Learn more about U of R’s Health, Medicine, and Society program.