Stacey Ruiz

Undergraduate student majoring in Biology on the Pre-Medicine track. 

Striving and Thriving at VCU talks  to Stacey about her journey in STEM, what advice would she give to future STEM students, and the longest she's ever gone without sleep.

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An interview with Stacey

What has facilitated your journey in STEM?

I came to VCU because it was a really diverse school and that was really important to me when looking at colleges. After my first year, I was maybe one of the few Latinas in my classes and that can be discouraging. You look around and you don’t see people like you in your classrooms. We’re a minoritized group that is really underrepresented in STEM fields and that was a struggle for me because I often felt out of place, like I didn’t belong.


Once I found my community and found other people with similar backgrounds as me, that really changed my whole college experience. Now I have friends that are in the same field as me, learning the same things as me. That’s been really amazing because we are here to support each other, whether it be helping each other study, with our classes, or looking into graduate programs. 


I think it’s just about finding your people and building a support system that you can rely on because it definitely can get lonely, and you don’t want that to discourage you from pursuing a career in STEM. 

What advice would you give minoritized students in STEM fields?

Try to get involved in STEM activities as early as possible. Whether that is research, shadowing, or just getting involved in student organizations. That can really just change your whole experience. It’ll help you reinforce that, whatever it is you want to do in STEM, is really what you want to do and what you see yourself doing.


I would also say don’t be the one to discourage yourself. I’ve often felt like an imposter and it’s been because of my own thoughts. It can be really easy to discourage yourself from applying to a program or reaching out to a professor or applying to an internship. Don’t be the one to tell yourself that you can’t do it. If you see yourself doing it, that is enough for you to reach for it. I’ve oftentimes discouraged myself from applying to certain programs or master’s programs, thinking that I may not be good enough to get into that school. But you don’t know until you try.

What is the longest you’ve gone without sleep and why?

I’ve probably gone like 30 hours without sleeping. My freshman year it was so hard for me to adjust to my science courses, specifically biology. I had to write a lab report for Bio Lab 151. It was our final lab report and I had procrastinated because I had so many other things going on. I ended up not sleeping for like 30 hours. I vividly remember pulling an all-nighter. I barely even ate, which is so horrible and I will never do that again.

 
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"Don’t give up, find your place because there is a place for you, you wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t."  - Stacey Ruiz