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ULGDYP introduces STEM careers to students

The Dallas Examiner | 6/9/2014, 2:39 p.m.

The Dallas Examiner

With science, technology, engineering and math jobs now in high demand, 206 middle and high school students were encouraged to consider them for future career choices during the Urban League of Greater Dallas Young Professional’s STEM Youth Conference.

The conference, held April 26 at Southern Methodist University in the Hughes Trigg Student Center, coincided with the National Urban League’s National Day of Service and included free student and parent workshops, a college fair, science fair and scholarship giveaway. Youth Conference Chair Tiffany Daniels mentioned that the purpose of the event was to help increase minority representation in the STEM workforce.

In 2009, African Americans received 1 percent of all degrees in science technologies and 4 percent of all degrees in math and statistics, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That same year less than 2 percent of Ph.D.’s awarded in physical sciences went to African Americans.

Daniels noted that statistics also show that children are much more likely to succeed at subjects they have been thoroughly exposed to. The conference strove to introduce students to STEM subjects through interactive workshops that featured hands-on activities. One workshop informed students about STEM majors.

Other workshops taught students about college preparedness and professional development. The parent workshops enlightened 118 parents about the college admissions process, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and why their children should be involved in STEM.

Workshop instructors included ULGDYP members working in STEM careers, STEM teachers, and those with STEM-related businesses. Dr. Baranda Fermin, a sociology professor at the University of North Texas Dallas, instructed a workshop on mentoring students.

She commented that it was important for students to know how to find mentors. She explained that students may be shy in seeking mentors, but noted that students shouldn’t rely on mentors coming to them; they should seek them out.

She told students that they could find potential mentors anywhere, and that a way to secure mentors would be to write them a short email introducing themselves and describing their interests. She detailed a good mentor-mentee relationship as one in which the mentor is not only a teacher to the mentee, but also a friend.

The science fair exhibited student projects that had been showcased at another science fair in Fair Park. Students gave brief presentations about their projects to those interested in learning more about their projects’ topics.

Over $1,200 was given away in scholarships, gift cards, raffles and other educational tools. A $500 scholarship was awarded to Chaumaryanne Lawson, a senior at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School, who has aspirations of majoring in biomedical sciences and attending medical school. In her application essay, she discussed how her dream is to provide health care to people who can’t afford it by establishing a “pay-me-later” type system.

The Tom Joyner Foundation donated 120 Prep for College books. ULGDYP, an auxiliary of the Urban League of Greater Dallas and North Central Texas, is currently considering ideas for next year’s STEM Youth Conference.