About the Inclusive Excellence in Quals Prep ProgramThe Inclusive Excellence in Quals Preparation (IEQP) program aims to prepare graduate students for their qualifying exam by building a sense of community, providing a support system, and creating an environment where students feel valued and capable of achieving their goals. Program ComponentsMotivationObjectivesStructureMotivationIn 2015, the National Science Foundation Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (NSF AGEP) California Alliance conducted a wide-ranging survey of graduate students across STEM. (Fisher et al., 2019) The goal was to pinpoint ways to improve the success of PhD students, and eventually increase diversity in STEM leadership positions. Survey results showed that minority students, who felt less prepared than their peers, were most likely to excell if they felt that they were prepared for their graduate courses, accepted by their colleagues, and enrolled in a structured PhD program. Furthermore, authors found that feeling accepted in STEM mitigates feelings of distress, and leads to higher perceived success and higher subjective well-being. The IEQP Program will prepare students for success in graduate school and beyond by helping them prepare for their qualifying exam and building a community of support. Objectives To pair every student with a mentor that will support them as they prepare for the qualifying exam. To create a sense of community among the students. To help students cope with imposter syndrome and learn resilience building techniques that will help them through graduate school. To ensure every student is satisfied with their preparation at the time of taking their qualifying exam. To strengthen students’ time management, writing, editing, and presentation skills. To contribute to the retention of graduate students from groups minoritized in STEM. StructureThe program will have two main components: an academic component that will focus on enhancing the mentees’ operational skills and a social component that will focus on providing the mentees with a strong support network. The academic component will involve: (1) workshops focused on building skills, preparing for the qualifying exam, and mental health and wellbeing, and (2) practice exams where the mentees will present their research proposal. The social component will involve: (1) a kickoff event so mentees get to know the program community, (2) coffee hours where the mentees will meet with their graduate student mentors, (3) mentee dinners where the mentees will strengthen bonds with each other, and (4) a celebration of the mentees’ accomplishments at the end of the program. In the 2021-2022 academic year, the IEQP will be piloted with students from the MCB and PMB doctoral programs. Funding for this pilot program is made possible through STEMfyi – generously funded by the PPG Foundation. Curriculum Map Program DirectorsZoila Álvarez-AponteCo-DirectorZoila Álvarez-Aponte is a third year Ph.D. candidate in the Plant and Microbial Biology Department at UC Berkeley. She obtained her B.S. in Industrial Biotechnology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez in 2019. Her research in the laboratory of Dr. Michiko Taga focuses on using corrinoids, the family of cofactors that includes vitamin B12, as model nutrients to understand how soil microbes interact with each other. In her spare time, Zoila enjoys traveling, trying new foods, salsa dancing, and hanging out with her dog Maya. Amanda Gonzalez-SegarraCo-DirectorAmanda Gonzalez-Segarra is a Ph.D. candidate in the Molecular and Cell Biology Department at UC Berkeley. She obtained a B.S. from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2017. As an undergraduate, Amanda was a MARC Scholar and an Amgen Scholar and studied the motor nervous system of the sea cucumber in the laboratory of Dr. Gracía-Arrarás. Her graduate studies in the laboratory of Dr. Kristin Scott focus on elucidating how hunger and thirst are coordinated by the nervous system to drive feeding in Drosophila melanogaster. In her spare time Amanda likes to take care of her houseplants, go on hikes with her dog, and dance flamenco.