High school graduation ceremonies are in full swing throughout our great state, and graduation speeches are an integral part of every ceremony. I’ve heard graduation speeches from students reflecting on their four years of sports, pep rallies, chess clubs, drama clubs, beloved teachers and dreaded exams. Of all of the speeches I’ve heard this year, not one included a reflection on their local STEM professional and the critical role these professionals played in a high school students future pursuit of math or science studies in college. I’d come to learn that for most students this decision is chosen long before they reach high school. In fact, when Arizona high school seniors are polled, students reflect on their journey to pursue math or science careers with the two most influential catalysts: positive science or math role models and seeing a STEM professional create innovative and exciting things.
To fan the flames of innovation, every month MCESA broadcasts an informative episode highlighting real STEM professionals working in their respective fields. These role models discuss what spawned their interest into the field, what courses they took in college and why they love their chosen profession. Finally, the show ends with the role model taking live questions from students watching from their classrooms.
Last week’s featured company was PCL Construction, a Civil Construction company specializing in water infrastructure. PCL is currently working to repair the Tempe Town Lake dam, as well as enlarging a local wastewater treatment plant. Lourdes Lopez, project engineer for the Water Infrastructure Group, tells students during the streaming broadcast how she came to study construction engineering:
“I’m from a small city in Arizona called Yuma. When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, but I really liked the STEM fields and knew I wanted to study something related to physics and mathematics. So I started taking some classes (in high school and then college) to try to figure out what I liked, and it turned out I really liked the construction program at ASU.”
Professionals have been featured from other organizations as well, such as Freeport Mc-Mo-Ran, Local Motors, Butterfly Wonderland, Axosoft, and the US Airways Center. To feature STEM professionals at your organization as STEM Role Models, contact Marlys Weaver-Stoesz at firstname.lastname@example.org.