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Anthony Smith in a laboratory setting smiling and holding a glass bottle and dropper

The surprise biologist

Anthony Smith likes to think of an organism like a finely tuned car. An automobile’s power-train control module—or main computer—acts as the brain to a central nervous system, interpreting signals and sending out responses. “In a car, there are sensors that determine the temperature of the engine, just like your skin senses temperature,” Smith said. “That information is then interpreted by the brain, which later sends output signals to elicit a response, like whether to withdraw from the temperature source.”
Wanda Nguyen works in a Biology lab

A career path to smile about

If you ask Wanda Nguyen about her career plans, she does not hesitate with her answer: She will graduate from Northeastern Illinois University, attend dental school and eventually become an orthodontist, she says. And then she smiles. Nguyen hasn’t always been so quick to smile. As a child, she was teased and bullied by her classmates for having crooked teeth. She became shy and withdrawn. But after receiving orthodontic treatment at 21, Nguyen’s self-confidence skyrocketed.
Claudia Hernandez at the new El Centro construction site

Destined to Empower Others

In May of 2014, Claudia Hernandez earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Northeastern Illinois University. It was the first major step in realizing her lifelong goal of becoming a social worker—a goal born from tragedy. When she was just seven years old, Claudia’s father passed away unexpectedly. “My father’s death made me a sensitive child,” Hernandez said. “I remember crying in bed every night and out of nowhere in my second-grade class. For that reason I was referred to the school social worker. Her help during that time motivated me to become a social worker.”
Student at work in the Student Center of Science Engagement

The science engagement theory

2011 A.D.: Northeastern Illinois University freshman subject Mariah Green discovers the Student Center for Science Engagement (SCSE). Months later, subject joins her new SCSE friends and mentors in San Jose, Calif., for the national conference of the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). "I was overwhelmed," subject later notes, "but in a good way." 2012 A.D.: Green attends the SACNAS conference in Seattle to deliver her first poster presentation. Judges express their support. Subject gains confidence.


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