STEM, fundamental studies for the professional future of young Latin Americans

By Ricardo Sánchez Silva, @RicardoLoDice, NAHP Media Correspondent.
The future of students, children of Hispanic parents, can often be uncertain if they do not have a due orientation about possible study options and mainly financial support.  In such regard, Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) offers a new series of specific K-12 educational programs, which promote university studies, awareness, and access to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), among traditionally underrepresented groups.

The Latin communities are within these sectors. Motivation and exposure of young people to role models, such as engineers and scientists, are of the utmost importance and projects that they can develop with their own hands and through various activities. 

“GMiS offers STEM students transformative scholarships, which help them to be successful in institutions that service Hispanics,” stated Anna Park, Executive Director of Great Minds in STEM.

Therefore, Viva Technology™ is a national K-12 educational program designed by GMiS to involve students, teachers, and parents with STEM challenges that stimulate their interest in technology application and provides professional trajectories aimed at these areas. It creates awareness, provides resources, and access to professional trajectories.

Related Article: Latinos in the USA: A Young, Bilingual, Ambicultural Population

Through various program options, Viva Technology™ has been implemented in 18 states and the District of Columbia, with a scope of more than 136 thousand students, teachers, and parents.

Parents’ Importance

The initiative has “Parents’ Nights,” an orientation session for parents or tutors, which takes place during “Student’s Day” week, a favorable date for young people to experience competitive and educational activities through practice.  They work in teams directed by university students (university captains) of nearby universities, specialized in a STEM field.

The guideline is designed to explain to parents what their children will learn by participating in the program and promoting interest in mathematics and science while informing them about the positive impact on their children’s futures and future professional opportunities. Something key in this process is that material and presentations can be given both in English and Spanish.

“The United States needs to produce more engineers and scientists. This starts exposing more young students to the STEM world around them and inspiring them to dream about a STEM career. Therefore, the GMiS Viva Technology™ Program does precisely that,” said Danielle Villar, Coordinator of the Educational Program.

On the other hand, a motivating factor is that careers linked to STEM are better remunerated than others. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job projections in the area will grow, between 2019 and 2029, in around 797 thousand positions, representing an 8% increase compared to the 3.7% of the rest of the occupations. In the meantime, the annual average salary in 2019 is located at $ 86,980, which is more than twice the $ 39,810 belonging to other professions or trades.

Exposure to these areas is precisely what offers another learning perspective to young people of Latin origin, such as Odalia Benítez, who studied in the South Gate Middle School in California 5 years ago. “This is a unique living opportunity. It is hands-on; it is different from school because at school we read, memorize and learn, but here, we provide our imagination, we get involved in our project, which we create,” affirmed then the girl in 8th grade.

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