A standing ovation filled the room after biology major Taylor Thornton delivered a spoken-word poem called “Black Girl Scientist” at the Black History Month President’s Reception.
“Black girl scientist knew that most scientists did not look like her. That her caramel skin and kinky hair were considered exotic like the animals she wanted to study. That others considered her a statistic, rather than an asset.” Thornton said in her poem.
The reception aimed to recognize and celebrate black men and women who have greatly influenced the scientific field.
George Washington Carver, Mae Jemison and others were highlighted by CSUF President Mildred Garcia in her speech supporting the African-American community on campus.
“We applaud African-American men and women, who despite systemic racism, were able to achieve this country’s greatest breakthroughs in the fields of science, medicine, astronomy and beyond,” Garcia said.
Joel Abraham, associate professor of biological science, further touched on the importance of contributions to science by the black community with a PowerPoint presentation discussing the many obstacles black scientists face within the field.
“We have fallen short when it comes to representation of black success in engineering and mathematics,” Abraham said.
Abraham continued by revealing the statistics of black men and women who enter into the STEM field. As black male and female students enter the STEM program, over half eventually leave the program without fully completing it, Abraham said.
He combated these statistics by saying that black STEM students should reach out to their professors and ask for help. He offered to help the students personally, sharing his email and office hours.
Though the reception was dedicated to black success in science, other cultural talents were welcomed throughout the event.
There was a cultural dance performed by six African-American girls, who are students at Cal State Fullerton, and the song “Someday We’ll All Be Free” was performed by another black Titan Christopher Mosely.
In addition to the achievements that were highlighted, Jonathan Phillips was awarded the Black History Month Scholarship. Since he was in class, his mother Latanya Henderson accepted the award on his behalf.
As Henderson accepted the award for her son, she stood in the front, holding the award with a smile on her face as the room stood up to applaud the achievements of her son.