UA program helps under represented students pursue Ph.D.s, work in Tucson

TUCSON. Ariz. - Many students who graduate from the University of Arizona end up leaving Tucson to pursue their masters or Ph.D.s and most of them leave town after graduating. 

A new program at the university is helping under represented students continue their doctoral education, serve our community with their research and later find jobs without having to leave. 

The University of Arizona Graduate College administers the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Consortium (UROC). Andrew Huerta is the program's director, he says UROC trains students  for an easy transition, " and introduce them to a faculty mentor so they can be successful and be able to participate in the research that's taking place at this university," he said. 

UROC  provides participants with excellent research training and graduate school preparation through:

  • research experience under the guidance of a faculty mentor
  • professional development and graduate admission workshops
  • a free professional GRE workshop and encouragement to take the GRE during UROC
  • social opportunities and a support network of like-minded peers
  • poster session, oral presentation, and abstract writing.

 According to Huerta, students are paid to be doctoral students and complete their Ph.D. Almost 90% of UROC's students actually end up attending grad school, most stay at the UA, Huerta said. 

Now, the focus is to reduce the amount of graduates who leave Tucson to do their research or find jobs. The university wants to keep students in town, researching issues that impact our community. "The students research local issues generally, they work with participants within their research that are form our community," Huerta said. 

For Kathia Antillon, an undergraduate student at UA who plans on obtaining her Ph.D. in organic chemistry and who is a minority and low income student, the program will allow her to overcome her challenges. Her research is focused on finding alternative pain medications and help lessen the state's opioid epidemic. She says once she obtains her Ph.D., she will be able to come back as a professor and run her own lab."I want to be able to come back with my education and everything they've given me to try and help some one else," Antillon said. 

To be eligible to become a UROC Scholar, students must meet all of the following criteria:

Be a junior or senior (and be within two years of graduation) at the University of Arizona.
Intend to pursue a doctorate after graduation (professional degrees such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or law are not eligible).
Have a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA.
Be first-generation-college and low income: First-generation-college defined as having parents or guardians who have not earned a baccalaureate degree. For low-income definition, see the Federal TRIO Programs annual low income levels.

For more information to apply, click here.

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