SAN ANTONIO - High school and college students from across the region are taking research to a new level at the 7th annual UTSA Trio Symposium.

"Research being displayed today runs across the board," said program director Darrell Balderrama.

One hundred and seventy five young minds are taking a deeper look into some of our country's hot topics. From STEM to the humanities, they have a personal stake in their research.

"My project is about how the demographics of San Antonio affect other cultures, but for me I'd doing it perspectively, so I'm doing African American," said high school student Jada Knowles.

"It hit close to home. I had friends and family that had been hated on, discriminated because they were lesbian, gay or transgender, and I just wanted society to know what they were going through," said Bryan Zapata.

The students are competing for scholarship money and resume stars on their college applications.

"They come from the San Antonio area, Crystal City, Uvalde, Eagle Pass and Brackettville Texas," Balderrama said.

"I would actually be the first one out of my family to come to college," Zapata said.

Through the projects, they're learning not just about their field, but about themselves.

"At first I wasn't very comfortable talking about race, nobody really is, but if I can do it and show people it's ok to talk about it if you're doing it in a respectful manner," Knowles said.

"Their faces are lit up because they're excited. We want to continue to motivate them to seek more in their educational journeys," Balderrama said.

For many, it's an ambitious path, lined with big goals.

"I would like to go into forensic pathology," Knowles said.

"I want to study in the medical field, and the college I was looking for is actually here - UTSA," said Zapata.