Celebrating Research with BUILD EXITO

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Contact Info: iarjun@pdx.edu

By Arjun Viray

In fall 2021, the BUILD EXITO program at Portland State University organized two separate virtual events for students to share and present their research. Presenting research is an important step in students’ development as scientists, and in their fully participating in the research community.

BUILD EXITO Summer Research Academy
BUILD EXITO's 6th Annual Summer Research
Symposium was held in September 2021.


BUILD EXITO hosted their 6th Annual BUILD EXITO Summer Research Symposium in September 2021, and it was a great way to kick-off the new academic year!

The Cohort 5 Scholars worked hard in their Research Learning Communities all summer and presented their research with great poise and expertise! Topics ranged from air quality on green roofs (Alondra Sotela Laureano) to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental and physical health of families affected by chronic pain (Keandre Deseo). Scholars’ posters and recordings of presentations can be seen in the virtual poster hall and oral presentation hall.

2021 Fall Celebration of Undergrad Research
Scholars share experiences at BUILD EXITO's Fall Celebration
of Undergraduate Research in November 2021.


On Nov. 15, 2021, the BUILD EXITO program hosted a Fall Celebration of Undergraduate Research! During the event, attendees heard about Scholars’ experiences in research from BUILD EXITO (Jose Camara-Lavadores and Eries Jay Moreno), URISE (Ismael Bastida De Jesus), and EXITO PLUS (Anna Zhen). 

This event was virtual due to COVID-19 safety measures. However, the virtual format enabled participation from BUILD EXITO’s partner institutions, including attendees from places like the University of Guam, the American Samoa Community College, and the University of Alaska Anchorage. 


The After-EXITO Team was formed in response to a need expressed by earlier cohort alumni of BUILD EXITO. We learned that a lot of the Scholar alumni experienced a difficult transition when they completed the BUILD EXITO program. To learn more about what their needs were, a study was conducted with alumni in 2019.

Since that study was conducted, the After-EXITO Team has been working to provide an offboarding experience for senior Scholars to help them plan for next steps after completing the program. The team has also been collecting stories about alumni’s experiences during and after being part of our program.

One main goal for collecting stories from alumni is to uplift their experiences and voices as they reflect on their time in BUILD EXITO and share how they have navigated different obstacles afterwards, such as finding a new job, applying for a master’s program, and moving to a new state.

To date, six alumni Scholars have been interviewed, the most recent being Cohort 1 Scholar Dhale Posadas. Posadas shared that throughout her undergraduate education, she was focused on biology but it wasn’t until her senior year that she realized she enjoyed public health. Finding a job in public health was difficult, but she now enjoys her work as a Health Coach at Iora Primary Care, in Washington state.

The Diversity Program Consortium Coordination and Evaluation Center at UCLA is supported by Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health / National Institutes of General Medical Sciences under award number U54GM119024.
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