First and foremost, I want to enthusiastically express that as a PhD student who has participated in a good number of conference experiences over my student career, I consider the Broader Engagement (BE) program experience to have been absolutely the most valuable and empowering conference experience I have had to date as a student. The BE program’s thoughtful mix of special sessions for the BE audience (such as special topic symposiums, mentoring sessions, networking events, panels, and daily Guided Affinity Group breakfast meetings) converted the fairly isolating conference experience I was accustomed to, to an intimate period of professional development unlike any other I have had. With a particular fondness, I remember my Guided Affinity Group where our group mentor, Dr. Ann Almgren, frequently shared key advice for making the most out of the SIAM CSE experience. In this group, I also made lasting friendships that I doubt I would have made without the BE program.
Beyond personal growth, I learned a great deal about research opportunities and employment opportunities available in CSE broadly. Without a doubt, this information has been key in forming my projected career plans after graduate school. It’s an understatement to say that the BE program has vastly broadened my horizons and my potential career paths. In addition to providing excellent professional and career development opportunities, the BE program also clearly promoted a sense of diversity and inclusiveness. This was particularly impactful for me as a minority student. In my personal experience, low domestic minority representation at both the student and professional level at conferences tends to exacerbate the tendency to feel like an “outsider” at these events. However, with the BE program I experienced something new, a sense of belonging. It’s difficult to state how important that was to me. I emerged with an energy and sense of confidence I had never had before. I firmly believe any student interested in CSE can benefit in a variety of ways from this wonderful program.
University of Arizona