Making a Difference One NERD at a time!
Our Cal NERDS Student Center, centrally located on campus in Stephens Hall
The Cal NERDS Program is comprised of a suite of programs and initiatives that provide faculty mentored research opportunities, specialized tech training, graduate school preparation, career coaching, community building, and professional development to high achieving STEM undergraduates and graduate students. Our community is made up of diverse NERDS that come from many non-dominant backgrounds including LGBTQ, low-income, first-generation, underrepresented, student parents, transfer, re-entry, disabled, foster, undocumented, system-impacted, and women. Our NERDS gain the expertise that helps them amplify their talents and build their confidence. They contribute to our country’s STEM workforce as global leaders, innovators, and technologists in academia, government, and industry.
The Cal NERDS Student Center is a unique space on campus because it is a home away from home for our diversity STEM undergraduate and graduate students communities. Our space serves as a hub for mentoring, creating a sense of belonging, and STEM identity development. We are also very proud to be the home of the Crow Dog Murals by Artist Lokata Chief Leonard Crow Dog, Jr.
We value the many campus relationships we have formed over the years to provide additional support to more students. Some of our current partnerships include Spectrum - Autism at Cal, Latinxs in the Environment, Graduate Student Group - FYI STEM, Native American Theme Program, Black Engineering and Science Student Association, Hispanic Engineers and Scientists Society, Latino Association for Graduate Students in Engineering and Science, Graduate Student SACNAS club to name a few.
We are fortunate to have specialists that provide their expertise, encouragement, and time with our NERDS beyond research opportunities with faculty mentors. Having an additional layer of support helps students have a bigger “academic family” that cares about them and can help build their confidence. Our mentors connect with NERDS through a variety of methods including phone, video, and in person. Having this flexibility to meet students where they are at is vital to their development. Often our NERDS gain exposure to important role models and are encouraged to follow-up with 1x1 meetings. Our mentors have come from a variety of academic and education landscapes (data science, technology, healthcare, engineering, biotechnology, national labs, etc.).
Our Advising Philosophy
We use the FLARE holistic model of advising created in-house by Director Diana Lizarraga. This approach allows health and wellness to be woven into the conversation and emphasizes balance among these elements to increase success, validation, and sense of belonging to our community.
F = Finances
L = Life
A = Academics
R = Resources
E = Environment
The DREAM Mapping Technique
Building one’s future is no small task, however many diversity students are unaware of the many benefits that hands-on research provides. DREAM mapping is an empowerment technique developed by Director Diana Lizarraga that utilizes large-scale paper to create a custom physical road map of potential connections, mentors, programs, ideas, opportunities, resources, and graduate school pathways based on the interests of the student. This process (EXPOSURE>PARTICIPATION>TRANSFORMATION) through a tangible diversity-centric visual.