Nov. 2, 2023 — Mindy Tran felt nervous walking into the George T. Harrell, M.D., Medical Education Building for the first time this fall. As the first in her family to attend college, she did not know what to expect at her first research poster presentation.
“I felt like I was not going to be seen, heard or even acknowledged due to the academic level I was at compared to the other participants,” said Tran, a University of Florida preprofessional biology junior. “I expected the event to be rigid and technical, but it was everything but that. As the day progressed, I realized how the symposium was designed to create a friendly and inclusive atmosphere. The speakers who gave presentations shared anecdotes and guidance that resonated with the challenges I hadn’t even realized I was facing.”
Tran, along with 20 other UF undergraduate and College of Medicine students, participated in the college’s inaugural first-generation research symposium on Oct. 14. Organized by members of the college’s First-Generation Student Organization, the event aimed to provide first-generation students with a welcoming environment to practice discussing their research with peers and faculty, and to learn the protocols in place at research presentations. The event was open to premedical undergraduate and medical students.
Fourth-year medical student Asena Markal developed the idea after she had a stressful experience while presenting research for the first time during a conference.
“It was very intimidating for me to present research because nobody had ever shown me how to do that before,” Markal said. “I didn’t really have any connections at the time, so I was thinking, ‘It would be great if there was a conference just for first-gen students to share their medical research,’ which is something I’d never seen. It would have been so beneficial for me, especially earlier in medical school or even in undergrad, to have that under my belt before going to these national conferences.”