Engaged Scholar: Jesus Cano
I transferred to Texas Tech just last fall from my home university after a sort of lackluster experience there. I knew that I wanted to conduct research pretty early on in my college career, but these opportunities were not presented to me. In fact, when I tried to get in touch with some professors over there, they had actually discouraged me from pursuing such endeavors because they were for "graduate students only." It was ridiculous. So I gave up on the idea.
When I had arrived and settled all of the new school jitters, I began looking for any sort of sign that Tech wanted its students do more than just the boring classroom routine. Boy, did I find it. I had heard that there was an entity named the Center for Undergraduate Research so I figured that it would be a good place to start. When I walked into the almost hidden office, I was greeted promptly by a smiling face. I must be honest, I do not remember his name, but the information that he gave me changed my impression of college and what it could offer. They not only allowed undergrads to conduct research, but they encouraged it. After getting some pointers and scheduling a meeting or two here, I was on my merry way.
The process of getting involved in research was an incredibly intimidating one, as there needed to be direct contact and interaction with professors. I'm what you would call the shy type. I prefer to sit towards the back of the classroom, out of the judgmental glare of the professor. Once I managed to get over my childish fear, I sent out a few emails. Then I waited. I had waited for a while before I even heard an acknowledgement of the receipt of my email. It was even longer before I got any interviews with these professors. I had a good idea of what I had wanted to research, so Dr. Pantoya's laboratory was the perfect fit. Needless to say, I was trembling when I walked in. I had read about a dozen of her publications in preparation for this meeting with her, and I forgot just about every single bit of terminology that I had known not two minutes before. From that interview, I had somehow managed to impress her enough to let me begin work in her lab.
This was great news, but getting in a lab was not enough for me. I blame my ambition. I wanted to be a part of an organization that helped promote the opportunities that are here and available to Tech students. Lucky me, I found a student organization named SACNAS. Its short for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, but I can assure you there is so much more breadth that it suggests. Here, I found out that there are people conducting psychological and agricultural research as well as some studies taking place in the humanities. SACNAS is where I found my niche. My ambition took over for a bit and I took an officer position in SACNAS shortly after joining. I have also been fortunate enough to begin working in that office in the corner of the administration building that started it all. The Center for Undergraduate Research has since been renamed the Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement (CALUE). It offers so much more than what it used to. Information on everything from service learning and study abroad to research and internships can be found here, all in one place.