Publish Date: 4/10/2014 2:50 PM

Vivian Ortiz and Justin Bain at the Crafton Hills College campus.

Crafton Hills College students Justin Bain, Yucaipa, and Vivian Ortiz, Redlands, both earned highly competitive summer scholarships from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, Colorado.

The extensive and prestigious summer program is available to a select few, with most submissions denied. The application process included writing and submitting an essay along with formal letters of recommendation from college professors. Bain and Ortiz were recently notified they were accepted into the Education Program, Independent Research/Training in Wildlife Biology Track.  It is a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) award. The scholarship includes all expenses at the field station, including meals, $400 towards travel expenses and a $5,000 stipend for the 10-week research program.

Both students were overjoyed at the opportunity. Bain said he is excited to be enrolled in the summer program.  "I hope to be like a sponge, absorbing all the knowledge and wisdom I can," he said. "This program is doing exactly what I want to do for a career, scientific research in the fields of ecology and wildlife biology. I will be working with experts in these fields, assisting them with their research while working on research of my own. This experience will be invaluable for future career prospects."

"This program is an exciting opportunity," concurred Ortiz. "Getting into a university is super competitive and as a first year college student, I am committed to doing what I can as early as possible to stand out. Researching through this program is a dream come true and I'm anxious for summer to begin. I'm grateful for this opportunity especially as a female. Being a Hispanic female scientist isn't too common and I'm grateful that I can represent both minority groups."

Both Bain and Ortiz are currently majoring in biology. Both have received what they deem excellent instruction in all science classes and curriculum at CHC.  "My favorite class so far is chemistry with Dr. Salt," Ortiz said. "Although it can be a challenging course, she is very passionate about her work and helping her students and has made this an enjoyable experience."

Bain found three classes particularly fascinating and helpful in his studies.  Biology 131 -Populations and Organisms with Professor Ruth Greyraven was the class that ultimately became a deciding factor for Bain’s decision to pursue a career in science research, and more specifically ecology research.  "Professor Greyraven’s passion for her subject and for teaching were inspiring to me," he said.  "This was the first science class I took for my major, and as a result so much of what I know about how to 'do' science I owe to her class."

Another key component to the success of the two students is the STEM program at CHC.  

“There are a surprising amount of opportunities waiting for students at CHC,” said Bain.  “The STEM Trek program at CHC is one such program. Through STEM Trek I have gained invaluable experiences as well as support and connections through meeting other STEM majors taking the same classes. It was through STEM TREK coordinator Patricia Menchaca that I learned about this wonderful program in Colorado. Overall, my education and experience at CHC has been excellent.”

Bain is graduating CHC with an A.S. in Biology and an A.S. in Multiple Sciences this spring, 2014. First year student Ortiz plans to graduate with a degree in biology or chemistry.

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