I attended the Third Annual Iowa Mathematical Field of Dreams Conference on September 26th-27th, 2009. The conference was for students underrepresented in higher education who are seeking to further their academic careers in mathematics. I learned about the conference through the McNair Scholars Program. You can find more information about the conference at this website:
When I submitted my application to attend the conference, I was doubtful that I would be chosen. When I received the acceptance letter I was ecstatic. The letter explained that I was awarded a grant to fully pay for my travel to Iowa, my hotel, and the conference registration fee (which included meals).
Before this trip, I never traveled further than Reno, Nevada! The opportunity to attend this conference at the University of Iowa and the support of the McNair Program exposed me to what it takes to succeed in the graduate school application process. I recently finished 9 applications to Ph.D programs in Mathematics.
I met a lot of students at the conference who were also preparing to apply to graduate school and we had the opportunity to share different perspectives on the process of selecting the best program. I learned a lot about the University of Iowa. Visiting the campus gave me insight to what attending the school might be like. In addition, I had the advantage of introducing myself to faculty whom I may work with or study under in the future. The trip was an invaluable experience and I encourage everyone to take full advantage of attending graduate school fairs, summer research programs, and of course the McNair program at CSUEB.