Attending the SACNAS conference was a wonderful experience professionally and academically. I had the opportunity to present research I did this past summer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. While presenting this research project, I practiced my science communication skills and met professors and researchers who were interested in learning more about my interests and future goals. I even got the “best poster presentation award” in physics/astronomy for the second time! The professors I met ranged in expertise and fields; they invited me to programs at their schools and introduced me to their colleagues. During the exhibit hall hours and break out sessions, I was able to meet graduate students and researchers at institutions I am interested in applying to for a PhD program. I am preparing myself to apply to graduate school next fall, so it was helpful to get advice from people who have already navigated the application and decision process.
Other than meeting new people from other institutions, I was able to reunite with friends I had not seen in a long time. Several Hispanic Engineers and Scientists (HES), a Latinx STEM organization on campus, alumni were at the conference, and it was comforting to see them again and catch up. I also met up with students, mentors, and professors from my summer program. Seeing them again reminded me of the amazing support system I have across the nation and how much I love the astronomy community.