Biology is the study of living organisms. It’s all about life! That’s the point the biological honor society Beta Beta Beta (Tri-Beta) is setting out to make – the biological sciences is more than just science it is about people.
Students who major in biological sciences go into many different disciplines. Tri-Beta aims to nurture future professionals who approach their work compassionately.
“In order for you to see what is needed for life and how many people are in need you have to see it firsthand in hopes of being able to integrate that experience in your future career,” said Luis Valderrama, a senior majoring in biology and co-president of Tri-Beta.
The Pi Xi Chapter of Tri-Beta was established in 2008 at FIU. Roughly 400 Betas have been inducted with an average of 40-50 new members per academic year.
Inviting parasitologists Paul Sharp to speak about spooky brain eating parasites at one of their bi-weekly, faculty lead meetings in October is one of the ways the group is capturing the attention of their members. Throughout the semester they also host a variety of collaborative socials and mission trips with organizations like Pre-Student Osteopathic Medical Association (Pre-SOMA) and Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (M.A.P.S.).
Working to provide resources, and new interpretations of the biological sciences is at the core of the organization. One of Tri-Beta’s most important values, though, is also helping enhance and promote the development of local communities both near and far.
In the past year, they have collaborated with Miami Medical Team and Habitat for Humanity where they helped rebuild destroyed houses after Hurricane Katrina. They pack school lunches with the nonprofit organization Second Harvest and work in the soup kitchens at the Salvation Army. This semester alone they have assisted in planting new plants at the FIU Nature Preserve and served with local homeless groups in downtown Miami through an outreach program called Project Downtown every Friday.
“We really try to incorporate service into our organization,” said Xristian Carvajal, a senior majoring in biology and co-president of Tri-Beta. “In order to be an active member you have to attend at least four community service events per semester.”
In November, in collaboration with Pre-SOMA and M.A.P.S., a group of the students attended a mission trip to Bradenton, Florida; they worked with the non-profit organization Remote Area Medical (RAM) to establish a mobile medical clinic that provides locals with free medical and dental assistance.
“The trip was a gratifying experience,” said Piera Sosa, senior majoring in biology and member of Tri-Beta. “It helped all of us get a feel for how healthcare providers can play such a vital role in the well-being of our society.”
About three times a week, Tri-Beta holds a bake sale in the Graham Center to raise money for an upcoming mission trip to Orlando in December.
“In getting that first-hand experience, volunteering shows our members – especially the people who want to become doctors – bedside manner when dealing with patients,” said Carvajal. “When we help feed the homeless, sometimes they get irritated and just want their meal. It’s good that our members learn that you have to be patient and kind.”
The Orlando trip is a week full of volunteering every day from 6:30 am to 6 pm, except for Sunday. The itinerary includes working with organizations such as Clean the World, where they will be taking soaps and shampoos left over from hotels to create packages to send out, not only in the United States, but to other counties with people who are in need.
In addition to Clean the World, they’ll also be working with Hands On Miami, Orlando Union, Second Harvest and the Salvation Army.
In order to attend the trip, members must obtain 13 points that include attending meetings, community service, fundraising, social and spirit events. The president’s hopes to make it easy to collect points by hosting a variety of these events throughout the week.
“Every activity and event I’ve attended with Tri-Beta has been rewarding,” said Sosa. “From fundraisers to mission trips. I’ve learned a lot and met many people who inspire me to continue to work hard to achieve my goals.”
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