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Saint Xavier's Bindhu Alappat represents SXU at PKAL Institute


Whether it be exposure to the arts, a deeper understanding of scientific discovery or an unstoppable drive to social change, the educational journey shapes not only personal achievement but also the landscape of the future. Saint Xavier University (SXU) is delighted to share the amazing work of its dedicated students, faculty and staff who constantly carry out the University’s Mercy mission into the world by striving for excellence, innovation, diversity and lifelong learning and service. Chemistry department chair, Bindhu Alappat, Ph.D., took that same enthusiasm on as she represented the SXU community at the 2018 PKAL STEM Leadership Institute.

The PKAL STEM Leadership Institute is a one-of-a-kind gathering that not only fosters ongoing leadership through high intensive, hands-on experiences but also trains individuals to impart STEM reformation within their own institutions and at the national level.

“It was an exceptional experience in my journey towards understanding how to lead differently,” said Alappat. “Reflecting privately and with mentors and colleagues, I was able to understand the impact my own implicit biases had on being an agent of change for STEM in higher education. Discovering my own authentic leadership required taking responsibility and a commitment to developing myself.”

The PKAL Institute is designed to help educators look at things differently and find possibilities where others see problems. In exploring the already existing diversity in education, it is the duty of leaders to use it as an asset in discovering and utilizing talent. The goals of the Institute are very much connected to SXU’s Mercy mission in inspiring excellence and diversity.

“My vision for SXU’s STEM program is that departments and institutions create opportunities for students to collaborate with one another in sciences or interdisciplinary fields,” said Alappat. “We need to find avenues for students to present their research and scholarly work so they can gain confidence and succeed. There needs to be an ongoing institutional support for such a community of learners.”

That system of support and fostering of such a community was made even more possible due in part to the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarding a $1.46 million grant to help underserved students pursuing a career in the STEM fields. Funding SXU’s EXPLORE STEM program, the grant will create a STEM studio to coordinate an array of interventions designed to provide continuous academic support and a mentorship between peers and faculty. The University has already funded and worked to create such a studio on the third floor of the Warde Academic Center and the continuing work is strongly supported throughout the SXU community.