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In The Club: SACNAS 

“In the Club” is a series that showcases some of the 230+ recognized student organizations at TCNJ. Want to have your club featured? Drop a line to to be considered for a future story.

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science — SACNAS — is one of The College of New Jersey’s newest recognized student organizations, and its members are committed to growing diversity in the STEM fields.

According to SACNAS, Hispanic and Native American employees represent only six percent and 0.2 percent of the STEM workforce. “There’s not an adequate representation for minority groups in STEM and leadership positions in general,” says Alexis Luglio ’23, a chemistry major and the club’s co-president.

But representation on campus has been the common cord to inspire students to form the club. Lugio saw SACNAS as a way to promote inclusion across different majors, while Naileny Rodriguez ’24, the recruitment and outreach chair, found SACNAS while searching for a sense of belonging as a biology major.

“This club provides an outlet for people across STEM who come from all different backgrounds to show there is a community for everyone,” Rodriguez says. 

Their time together is already paying dividends, both in building community and professionally.

In October, TCNJ’s SACNAS chapter attended the National Diversity in STEM conference in Puerto Rico, the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural diversity STEM event in the country. “It was the first time where I’ve been in a research space with people who look like me and come from a similar background,” says Rodriguez, who also presented research she conducted on roundworms.

And biology majors Sophy Vuong ’24 and Belmarie Siverio ’24 both secured internships after attending the conference: Vuong at Eli Lilly and Siverio with Merck.

Co-advisors Jennifer Aleman, a grant writer in the School of Science, and Gio Parada, assistant professor of chemistry, emphasized the importance of inclusion and SACNAS’ mission.

“A SACNAS chapter was something that was missing and needed at TCNJ,” Aleman says. “It provides a place where people of similar backgrounds can connect, network, and navigate the field of STEM together.”

To learn more about SACNAS, please email or follow them on Instagram @tcnj_sacnas.

— Kaitlyn Bonomo ’23