IOScholarships is the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority and underrepresented STEM students. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find scholarships and internship opportunities. IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.
“Now is the time for students to apply for college scholarships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships. “While there are many scholarships that have qualifications like a minimum 3.5 GPA, there are just as many that have lower GPA requirements or don’t even take GPA into consideration at all.”
GPA is an important factor for getting scholarships but is not the only thing that’s important. Schools are looking for dedicated students, who contribute to their community or are involved in STEM organizations or activities. They want to see leadership and perseverance, and while these can sort of be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through in extracurriculars.
The majority of the scholarships featured on IOScholarships come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive university pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it.
Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram social media accounts(@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.
In addition to providing scholarships, the IOScholarships platform features a scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.
Especially coming out of the pandemic, the need for job security has increased for job seekers across the country. While many industries and ways of doing business have changed through the events of 2020 and into 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 31 percent increase, at minimum, to 10 career fields in the next 10 years, despite the pandemic’s effects on the economy.
Pursuing a career in a growing field could not only provide job security through unprecedented events but could provide a steady income and a foundation for moving up in the ranks of your career. Check out the 10 fastest-growing jobs.
Wind Turbine Technician
A wind turbine technician, also known as a wind tech, installs, inspects, maintains, operates and repairs wind turbines. They can diagnose and fix any problem that could cause the turbine to shut down unexpectedly.
· Projected Growth Change: 68.2 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $56,260
· Required Education (minimum): Certificate in Wind Energy Technology
A nurse practitioner (NP) is an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner. NPs are trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease plus formulate and prescribe treatment plans. NP training covers basic disease prevention, coordination of care and health promotion but does not provide the depth of expertise needed to recognize more complex conditions.
· Projected Growth Change: 52.2 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $120,680
· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in the field of Advanced Practice Nursing
Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers assemble, set up and maintain rooftop or other systems that convert sunlight into energy. Typically, a PV is in charge of measuring, cutting, assembling and installing solar modules, panels and support structures according to building codes and standards. They also work to maintain, test and ensure the productivity of PV systems.
· Projected Growth Change: 52.1 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $47,670
· Required Education (minimum): High School degree and Trade School Knowledge
Statisticians are responsible for analyzing data and applying computational techniques to solve problems. Typical job tasks include designing surveys, experiments and polls; applying mathematical theories and methods to solve practical problems in business, engineering and the sciences; and interpreting data and communicating analyses to technical and non-technical audiences.
· Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $95,570
· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree in Statistics
Physical Therapist Assistants
Physical therapist assistants sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain. They are directly involved in the care of patients and often aid in patient care, treatment area setup and clerical duties.
· Projected Growth Change: 35.4 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $61,180
· Required Education (minimum): Associate degree from an accredited program and a license or certification
Information Security Analysts
Information security analysts plan and carry out security measures to protect an organization’s computer networks and systems. They are responsible for monitoring an organization’s networks for security breaches, keeping up with information technology trends and are heavily involved with creating their organization’s disaster recovery plan.
· Projected Growth Change: 33.3 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $102,600
· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Technology or a related field
Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Home health and personal care aides monitor the condition of people with disabilities or chronic illnesses and help them with daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. Under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner, home health aides may be allowed to give a client medication or to check the client’s vital signs.
· Projected Growth Change: 32.6 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $29,430
· Required Education (minimum): Formal training
Medical and Health Services Managers
Medical and health services managers, also called healthcare executives or administrators, plan, direct and coordinate medical and health services. They may manage an entire facility, a specific clinical area/department or a medical practice for a group of physicians. Medical and health services managers must adapt to changes in healthcare laws, regulations and technology.
· Projected Growth Change: 32.5 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $101,340
· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in related fields
Data Scientists and Mathematical Occupations
A data scientist creates programming code and combines it with statistical knowledge to develop insights from data. Data science is an interdisciplinary field focused on extracting knowledge from data sets, which are typically large, and applying the knowledge and actionable insights from data to solve problems in a wide range of application domains.
· Projected Growth Change: 31.4 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $100,480
· Required Education (minimum): Bachelor’s degree in Data Science in a computer-related field
Physician assistants, also known as PAs, practice medicine in teams with physicians, surgeons and other healthcare workers. They examine, diagnose and treat patients through examinations and diagnostic tests. They may also prescribe medication and give treatments.
· Projected Growth Change: 31 percent
· Median Annual Wage: $121,530
· Required Education (minimum): Master’s degree from an accredited educational program
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Energy, Wikipedia, Master’s in Data Science
I’ve spent most of my professional career in the high-tech field, surrounded by predominantly male leadership. While I will always be appreciative of the mentorship and guidance I have received over the years, I’ve often found self-comparison leading the way for me.
In the STEAM fields, you’re expected to be very innovative and forward-looking. While those around me exuded confidence and self-assurance, I have often felt like I was faking it. For the longest time, I became risk-averse for fear of looking stupid. As I climbed the corporate ladder, I was sure these feelings would leave me and was disappointed to find that they would intensify.
Then, one day, many years ago, an employee reached out to me asking for advice about overcoming “imposter syndrome.” Never having heard of this affliction, my interest was piqued. After reading more about it, I realized this term describes me. Discovering that others felt these feelings flooded me with relief. In my research, I found that this “syndrome” was felt mainly by women and people of color.
Instead of being stressed, I felt challenged to learn how to conquer it. I sought coaching to help me do so, which inspired me to help others with my newfound knowledge. It has been a monumental privilege to help others learn to conquer this debilitating condition. If you can relate to these feelings, then I know you can conquer them, too. Here are three ways to do so.
1. Build self-confidence. Nobody is born with confidence. That means it can be built! Self-confidence is an emotion guided by our thoughts. If we become aware of our thoughts and identify the driving factor of negative emotions, then we have the power to target and change them. We can alter beliefs about ourselves, our career, our relationships, our lives. It’s natural for fear to crop up. That’s just the primitive part of our brains trying to protect us. With practice, all of us can rise above those natural, fear-driven thoughts and create self-confidence in every area of our lives.
2. Recognize that failing is a crucial part of success. We’ve all been taught in some way that failure must be avoided. However, when I was surrounded by software engineers, I learned that we all need to fail to improve. They call it “failing fast.” When developing software, failures or “bugs” are a normal and natural part of the testing process. It helps developers improve what isn’t working in the coding. Rather than fearing failure, look at it as a sign that you’re learning and moving forward.
3. Stop agonizing over what others may think. It’s natural for us to ponder what others think about us, but it’s the worrying that paralyzes us because there’s nothing we can do about it. Worried thoughts, however, are notoriously inaccurate. In the end, you cannot control others’ thoughts, feelings or expectations. While you may still face times of worry, you also face a choice in those moments to have courage and move forward despite any discomfort. And in doing so, you will continue to build confidence in yourself.
The journey of creating self-confidence and conquering imposter syndrome can be a long and challenging process. But if you choose to be your authentic self and have confidence in your abilities, you’ve taken the first important step.
Lori Pugh is the Chief People Officer for the nonprofit, Waterford.org. She is also a certified life coach specializing in helping women build their self-confidence and recognize their inherent brilliance. You can find more information on her website, loripugh.com, or by joining her Facebook group, “Women Walking Tall.”
Now more than ever, a record number of HBCU graduates are thriving in positions of leadership and authority. HBCU graduates are leaders in every field and include barrier-breaking public servants, scientists, artists, lawyers, engineers, educators and business owners. Several HBCU graduates serve in senior roles in the Biden-Harris Administration including the Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Cedric Richmond, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Vice President Kamala Harris — the first HBCU graduate ever to serve as Vice President of the United States.
Despite this record of success, disparities in resources and opportunities for HBCUs and their students persist, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted continuing and new challenges for HBCUs. As commencement ceremonies are celebrated across the country, thousands of graduates are beginning to enter the workforce, search for jobs and seek ways to apply their new skillset. But thanks to a new White House initiative and the dedication of the Department of Labor, an array of opportunities has opened up to these graduates, no matter the discipline.
Agencies among the Department of Labor, such as the Women’s Bureau and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), are recruiting recent HBCU graduates to come and work for their organizations.
“A lot of our minorities who attend HBCUs aren’t aware of the opportunities to work in the federal government,” Roxanne Griffith, a regional administrator with the Women’s Bureau, told WTOP News, “Even as a young person, I thought the federal government was a far reach for me, and it’s a whole lot closer than a lot of people think.”
While many believe that a government employee needs to have an extensive political science background to work in a federal position, this is not the case. In fact, the Department of Labor is looking to hire HBCU graduates from an array of specialties and concentrations from political science and economics to business and STEM focuses, women and gender studies, and everything in between.
Government jobs are also favorable as they provide stability and flexibility that can often be difficult to find in the workplace. Federal positions are known to pay fair wages and offer paid sick and vacation times, plus they are flexible with different kinds of schedules. They also provide health and retirement benefits that are often difficult to find in the workforce.
This recruitment is part of one of the White House’s recent initiatives dedicated to advancing opportunities for those attending and affiliated with a Historically Black College or University. The initiative is working closely with the President’s Executive Office on crucial Administration priorities related to advancing educational equity, excellence and economic opportunity through HBCUs. They have partnered with HBCU leaders, representatives, students and alumni.
The Department of Labor’s newest recruitment strategy is also in compliance with the initiative’s three areas of primary focus:
· Programs are embedded, ongoing and longer-term activities singularly owned by the initiative that are generally singularly delivered by the initiative but can be collaboratively delivered with others.
· Projects are finite-duration, discretionary actions, often outside the initiative’s, federal agencies’ or private sector actors’ day-to-day organizational activities; they are designed to accelerate the desired performance in a targeted area. These short-term efforts are generally jointly owned and delivered by the initiative with others and act as boosters to accelerate HBCU competitiveness.
· Policies are influential actors’ written or oral expressions of important public objectives and priorities. These actors can be public sector (e.g., local, state and federal executive/ legislative/agency) or private sector (e.g., industry/philanthropy/education/advocacy).
In adhering to these initiatives, HBCUs hope to provide more opportunities for success for their students and advocation for diversity in every workplace.
To learn more about educational opportunities for HBCU students and graduates, visit sites.ed.gov/whhbcu.
Sources: Department of Education, WTOP News, The White House, Partnership for Public Service (Go Government)
National Scholarship Month, sponsored by the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), is a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the vital role scholarships play in reducing student loan debt and expanding access to higher education.
To celebrate, the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) has announced the launch of the NSPA Exchange – the first and only scholarship metric database.
Thanks to a partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the NSPA Exchange was created to serve as a central access point for scholarship provider data. Currently, the database is home to metrics from over 1,300 organizations, allowing members to search details about peer providers by location, compare scholarship award amounts, eligibility criteria, program staff size, and more. All information is kept in a secure, cloud-based, centralized database maintained through a custom administration system.
“Our goal for the NSPA Exchange is to ultimately define best practices and industry standards for scholarship providers.” says Nicolette del Muro, Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at NSPA.
“With this database, members now have the data they need to make strategic decisions. For example, of the over 15,000 scholarships in the Exchange database, the average application is open for 90 days. And 75% of these scholarships open in the months of November, December, and January. This offers applicants a relatively short window of time to apply for all scholarships. Insight like this could help a provider determine to open their application outside of the busy season or encourage them to make their scholarship criteria and requirements available online in advance of the application open date.”
“The NSPA Exchange is a great resource for IOScholarships as the information is constantly updated and enables members to review and update their own organization’s scholarship data”, said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships and Individual Affiliate Member at NSPA. “IOScholarships also uses scholarships from the Exchange in our own Scholarship Search, and we trust these scholarships are safe for students, vetted, and current offerings.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION (NSPA)
The mission of the National Scholarship Providers Association is to advance the collective impact of scholarship providers and the scholarships they award. Currently serving over 2,000 individuals, they are dedicated to supporting the needs of professionals administering scholarships in colleges and universities, non-profit, foundations and businesses. Membership in the NSPA provides access to networking opportunities, professional development, and scholarship program resources.
By conducting a free scholarship search at IOScholarships.com, STEM minority and underrepresented students gain access to a database of thousands of STEM scholarships worth over $48 million. We then narrow this vast array of financial aid opportunities down to a manageable list of scholarships for which students actually qualify, based on the information they provide in their IOScholarships.com profile. They can then review their search results, mark their favorites, and sort their list by deadline, dollar amount and other criteria. We also offer a scholarship organizer which is completely free to use, just like our scholarship search. There are scholarships out there for diverse students in STEM. So take advantage of National Scholarship Month and search for available scholarships today!
Unemployed, underemployed or just curious? Changing circumstances in the economy may be making self-employment a more intriguing option to consider, and there are plenty of helpful training and information resources to help you explore the possibilities.
Independent work is a term that describes self-employed, freelance, temporary and “gig” work done by millions of workers in the U.S. It also includes individuals who sell items on e-commerce, vend private residential rental space on online platforms or drive for ride-hailing services. Independent work is an increasingly important means for either a primary or supplemental income in the U.S.
Another form of self-employment involves running a business with a physical location that employs others to make or sell goods or provide services. You might do this by starting your own business, buying a stand-alone existing business or joining a franchise program.
Free entrepreneurship learning opportunities
Whatever your ideas for a business model, there is a wealth of valuable entrepreneurship learning and business counseling opportunities available. Check out some of these free resources:
Local American Job Centers provide small business skill training, career awareness and counseling and information to help you understand the types of services and products in demand in your local economy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): A course designed to help participants develop a flexible way of thinking about marketing problems and understand key marketing concepts, methods and strategic issues relevant for start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs.
Money Smart for Small Businesses: This new instructor-led training curriculum developed jointly by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and the Small Business Administration (SBA) contains 10 training modules covering key topics for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Small Business Administration Learning Center: Take free online courses covering how to plan for your successful business startup, launching your business, managing, marketing and growing your business. It also includes an overview for young entrepreneurs.
SBA Online Small Business Training: The Small Business Administration offers more than 30 free self-guided online business training courses covering a variety of topics including how to prepare a business plan, franchising basics, government contracting, green business opportunities and more.
SCORE entrepreneurship online courses: View all their free courses available, including hiring workers, setting up a physical location, pricing products and services, finding funding and more.
Resources for targeted audiences interested in small business
Minority Business Development Agency: The U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. MBDA programs, services and initiatives focus on helping MBEs grow today, while preparing them to meet the industry needs of tomorrow.
Native American Enterprise Initiative: The Native American Enterprise Initiative seeks to build on the U. S. Chamber of Commerce’s record of success and advocacy by focusing on the crucial economic issues confronting tribal business entities and Native American-owned enterprises.
Veterans Business Outreach Centers: The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.
Over the past year, colleges have struggled to adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19, between the pressure to move entire degree programs online and the question of how best to connect with potential students in the absence of traditional events like college fairs and campus tours.
The obstacles faced by institutions of higher education have only increased over the years, and even when students can safely return to campus, it’s clear that colleges will be left with a critical, unsolved problem: how to prioritize diversity and inclusion and reflect those values in their recruitment practices.
According to a recent survey, 25% of Gen Zers decided not to apply for a college because they feared being treated unfairly due to their gender, ethnic or racial identity. Many are speaking from personal experience: Over three-quarters of respondents said they had witnessed discrimination in school and over half have experienced it themselves.
Colleges already experiencing a decline in enrollment can course correct through simple adjustments to how they prioritize and reflect the fundamental values of diversity and inclusion in their recruitment practices. This change will have a significant impact, not just on application and enrollment numbers, but on their long-term relevance as institutions of higher education.
Recruiting the next generation of college students, therefore, will require a shift in focus and a strategy that prioritizes a diverse campus culture, where all will feel welcome and appreciated for their differences, instead of ostracized. Recruitment practices are the ideal place for colleges to begin making the importance of diversity and inclusion clear, especially since prospective students are actively looking for the motivation behind initiatives that promote these values, and not just proof of their implementation.
Prioritizing diversity begins by ensuring that college recruiters reflect the background and identity of the students they’re hoping to attract. Almost two-thirds of students indicated that they would be more likely to apply to a college where the recruiter shares their racial or ethnic identity.
The next step toward inclusion is for colleges to be aware of what, exactly, Gen Zers include within that concept. For these future students, diversity and inclusion don’t stop with respect for racial or ethnic differences, they must also include an understanding of the importance of gender pronouns.
The majority of students emphatically agree that recruiters should ask for their preferred gender pronouns, but only a fraction have ever had a recruiter pose that question. Including this question would be a simple change to the existing process, but it’s one notable place where recruiters are missing the mark and missing out on potential candidates.
Colleges that have already undertaken initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion need to communicate the results of those efforts more effectively, such as through statistics and student testimonials that speak to the authentic impact of these changes over time. Respondents also highlighted a few other ways colleges can increase awareness of their dedication to these ideals, including drawing attention to programs or classes that promote diversity and a demonstrated commitment to social justice. Considering how important these criteria are to prospective students, putting in the work to implement these changes will be ineffective in attracting new students if there’s no visibility of their impact.
Simply advertising these changes isn’t enough, however. Colleges should clearly communicate how they plan to continue working toward a more diverse and inclusive environment, as well as why those changes are important. Prospective students are taking a harder look not only at the success of these initiatives, but also the motivation behind their implementation, in their consideration of where to apply.
Changing the look and language of recruitment is an easy switch, but it’s also a powerful one that will have a lasting impact on the future of college enrollment. Gen Z is placing a heavier emphasis on these distinctions than any prior generation, and colleges need to start doing so as well in response.
The next generation of college students is looking for more than an idyllic campus and an exhaustive list of course options; they’re looking for a safe environment that reflects who they are and the future they hope to create. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion and reflecting those values in their recruitment practices, colleges can demonstrate their commitment to actively welcome a diverse community of students and ensure their continued relevance.
“How to Apply for Higher Education Careers – Revised Edition” is a free ebook for anyone interested in getting a job in higher education.
If you’re starting your career or considering a career change, this ebook dives into what’s needed to apply for higher ed jobs: understanding the difference between a curriculum vitae and a resume, drafting a career-change resume, and checking if your resume can pass the 10-second test. The revised edition includes cover letter writing tips and candid advice from higher ed professionals, including representatives in HR and recruiting.
Download the ebook for strategies to tackle that crucial early step of putting yourself out there to secure your ideal job in higher ed.
Many people seemingly think the topic of public education in America is less important when compared to other pressing issues of today. However, there is one convincing figure who would respectfully disagree and debate why public education should not be dismissed or devalued. Dr. Sandy Womack Jr., currently an Area (Assistant) Superintendent with the Columbus City School District (which happens to be the largest school system in the State of Ohio), has always been a strategic thinker and advocate for underdogs.
Like most natives of disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, Womack gained an uncanny and often underestimated perspective of the learning process despite being exposed to a frequently challenging, yet character-building environment that private and parochial school systems do not offer. It was in the urban community that he learned a form of mental chemistry (a type of “toughness”) that is often cultivated in helping to define what it means for someone to possess a resilient spirit upon reaching adulthood. Those traits – essentially “chemistry” & “character” – are often heightened when adults, as Womack says, remember that “Exposure changes expectations, but it is the experiences we provide our children with that change their lives.”
No one in life has ever given Sandy Womack Jr. anything.
He has earned everything through those same forms of exposure and experiences he references. First, as a talented high school wrestler who was awarded a college scholarship in wrestling and went on to become a two-time NCAA All-American standout, and then in college classrooms as a knowledge-thirsty student and aspiring educator. Once he stepped away from the sport he excelled at, he fell in love with the infinite possibility of what he could accomplish through advanced education.
To broaden the scope of understanding the level of engagement (and privilege) involved in maintaining the economic stability of members of one ethnic group over others, one does not need to look far beyond the research. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) in Washington, D.C., the overall total number of college graduates awarded doctoral level degrees in 2018-2019 (the latest year’s statistics) reveals there were 187,568 doctoral degrees conferred throughout the U.S. in that year alone. Of that number, 100,880 were awarded to Whites; 19,507 were awarded to Asians; 14,087 were awarded to Blacks; and 13,277 were awarded to Hispanics and/or Latinos. And, out of that 187,568 total who received doctoral degrees in the U.S., only 13,020 total were conferred (awarded) such degrees for the category of education that year. Of that 13,020, Whites made up 6,963; Blacks made up 2,524; Hispanics and/or Latinos made up 1,110; and Asians represented 395 of those overall (education) doctoral degree graduates in 2018-2019.
Such statistics reinforce beliefs like those of noted scholar Richard Rothstein who said it best when he expressed that, “social class differences likely affect the academic performance of children.” In addition, Mr. Rothstein makes a valid argument when he quipped that “good teachers, high expectations, standards, accountability, and inspiration are not enough.” (Class and Schools, 2004). For children in today’s urban school settings to succeed, they need a Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. In a career that has spanned thirty-years in education, Sandy Womack Jr. got his start teaching in the Ohio education system with the Alliance City Schools in Stark County. Then, briefly with the University of Akron-Federal TRIO Programs in Summit County. Next came a teaching position in the Cleveland Metropolitan Schools, and a series of promotions led to becoming the Dean of Students and then an Assistant Principal with the Akron Public Schools. At the age of 29, he became the Head Principal with the Canton City Schools before being offered a series of promotions to become the Director of Curriculum and Development, and then the Director of Principal Leadership and Development with the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District in Cuyahoga County before finally becoming a member of what he considers the best professional team yet – his current administrative position helping to lead the Columbus City School District. The man has literally served in practically every capacity (except a Human Resources and/or Superintendent positions) as an education professional…from teacher to counselor to Assistant Principal to Building Principal to Administrator.
To discover why he is so passionate about public education in America and not only a frequently requested speaker at conferences, organizations, and universities across the country, but a trusted figure of children, parents, and/or guardians alike, you would have to know his path and allow him to pique your curiosity. Equipped with an arsenal of amazing traits and an invaluable skill set, Womack is a classic example of what can evolve (potential-wise) from many, if not most, of the disadvantaged children he has interacted with for many years. In addition to being a best friend-life partner to his equally dynamic wife – Dr. Monica Womack (who earned her Ph.D. and is a behind-the-scenes problem-solver in public education herself), Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. earned his Ed.D. and together they share three razor-sharp daughters. Interestingly, Sandy hails from a background where one of his parents (his late father) was a convicted felon who spent time in prison at one point. A constant reminder that no matter how you start out or where you come from, it’s how you use that experience to transform a person’s own life and that of other people that matters. It has been that factor, along with growing up watching his mother sacrifice and juggle to make things happen, which has enabled Sandy Womack Jr. to resonate with and relate to countless children, parents, and/or guardians of diverse backgrounds like few educators or administrators have or do.
When asked what he believes are the three most critical concerns affecting education in urban school settings throughout America, Womack is quick to reveal, “the proverbial lack of proper funding issue, the expectation issue (of the people who work directly with urban school children), and the lack of collective community-wrap-around-support issue.” To many students, parents, and fellow educators across the nation, Dr. Sandy Womack Jr. is not only the epitome of a dynamic teacher-education administrator, but he’s also another “inner-city success story.” Understandably, this overachiever still has his heart set on attaining his biggest goal yet as an educator-administrator, which (according to him) is to “become the #1 influencer of African American children in public schools in the world!”
*Santura Pegram (email@example.com) is a freelance writer and socially conscious business professional who has helped to advise small businesses; nonprofit organizations; city, county, and state governmental committees; elected officials; professional athletes; and school systems. He was a one-time protégé-aide to the “Political Matriarch of the State of Florida” – the late Honorable M. Athalie Range.
As the world becomes more digital, and with the metaverse just around the corner, educating and empowering our communities about access to new resources is vital.
But what happens when the language is convoluted and leaves out minorities?
Enter Marimer Cruz.
This Afro-Latina has written a book to break crypto down and make it accessible to everyone. “Crypto Simplified” is a step-by-step how-to manual that includes videos to start investing in the cryptocurrency world in an easy, quick, and safe way.
According to the author’s press release, the book s a layman’s explanation of the world of cryptocurrencies, how to buy your first crypto, and make money after implementation. Cruz explains what novices need to know about this complicated and rapidly evolving market.
For Marimer Cruz, the feeling of being overwhelmed by the financial jargon is common for all Latinos, especially those from poor backgrounds.
A graduate of TAMUCT and BAYLOR University’s Master’s degree, Cruz grew up amid poverty, abuse, and struggling with systemic lupus.
The Texas-based Puerto Rican experienced firsthand the linguistic and information democratization obstacles when she took her first steps in the world of cryptocurrency.
“I remember how scared I was of sending money from one exchange to another, thinking I will lose it all,” she says.
Now, with “Crypto Simplified,” Cruz wants to change the landscape.
“I remember how alone it feels being one of the few women minority full-time educators and bot traders in the USA,” she admits.
Cruz learned directly from grid bot trading experts and has leveraged her seven years as a super affiliate to help others safely embark on crypto. “Crypto is my passion, and there is nothing like it,” Cruz says, “and I will be spreading the crypto gospel in the Anglo and Spanish markets for years to come!”
Former WNBA player Niesha Butler has opened the first Afro-Latina-owned STEM camp, S.T.E.A.M. Champs, in New York City to reduce accessibility barriers to tech educational resources for Brooklyn youth.
“If a kid could actually say that they can be LeBron James, and roll it off their tongue as easy as that, then they can literally say ‘yeah, I can also put a man on the moon,’ or ‘I can also create the next app,'” Butler told ABC News.
Butler, a New York City native, says “there’s talent in Brooklyn.” She established S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Champs in the middle of Brooklyn to encourage inner-city youth to channel their ambition into educational opportunities. Butler also hires interns, may of whom have tried coding for the first time with the program, she says.
“People sell basketball dreams every other second in our community. I thought it was really important to, let’s sell these tech dreams,” Butler said.
Prior to opening her doors in Brooklyn, Butler partnered with organizations like Girl Scouts, BronxWorks and a local AAU basketball team to host STEM-focused workshops reaching over 300 New York City students. Monday was the first day of camp in the newly opened facility.
“There’s not a lot of people of color in tech,” Butler said. “These jobs are open for everybody and they’re empty…so obviously we need to do a better job at educating our kids and in recruiting them.”
Other tech education camps and workshops across the nation have worked to close the gap and make tech careers interesting and accessible to students of underserved communities.
Black Girls CODE is one of those resources providing workshops and public speaking opportunities for Black girls. Program alumni Kimora Oliver and Azure Butler say that the program’s first chapter in California’s Bay Area created an environment that allowed local Black female students to envision themselves in the tech industry.
“Unfortunately, STEM is a white and male dominated field,” Oliver told ABC News. “I feel like [Black Girls CODE] is giving a diverse group of Black girls the exposure that they need to decide for themselves whether they want to continue with STEM in the future.”
For almost 40 years, another program called Academically Interest Minds (AIM) at Kettering University has tailored its pre-college curriculum to expose youth of color to STEM coursework and campus life.
“49% of African American students who attend Kettering University now, are AIM graduates,” Ricky D. Brown, the university’s director of multicultural student initiatives and the AIM program, told ABC News.
For many, STEM educational resources introduce an element of choice in considering STEM and exploring pathways of academic interests.
A study released in July by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that early intervention programs like S.T.E.A.M Champs, AIM and Black Girls CODE are effective in helping students achieve academic success in higher education and STEM majors.
“Some of these kids don’t have a computer at home to study,” Butler said. “When I go to some of these centers, they don’t have good Wi-Fi…they have outdated computers.”
According to the study, underrepresentation in STEM is due to a lack of preparation and access to educational resources.
“Given that STEM preparation and college access are shaped prior to college entrance, STEM focused enrichment programs for high school students are promising vehicles to reduce disparities in STEM degree attainment,” the study’s authors wrote.
Click here to read the full article on ABC News Radio.
It’s undeniable that representation matters and the idea of what a scientist could or should look like is changing, largely thanks to pioneers like Afro-Latina scientist Dr. Jessica Esquivel, who is breaking barriers for women in STEM one step at a time.
Dr. Esquivel isn’t just extraordinary because of what she is capable of as an Afro-Latina astrophysicist — she’s also extraordinary in her vulnerability and relatability. She’s on a mission to break barriers in science and to show the humanity behind scientists.
Dr. Esquivel makes science accessible to everyone, no matter what you look like or where you come from. As one of the only Afro-Latina scientists in her field, and one of the only women who looked like her to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, Dr. Esquivel knows a thing or two about the importance of representation, especially in STEM fields and science labs.
Women make up only 28% of the science, technology, engineering, and math workforce in the U.S. Those disparities are even more severe when you start to look at minority populations.
“When you start looking at the intersections of race and gender and then even sexuality, those numbers drop significantly,” Esquivel told CBS Chicago. “There are only about 100 to 150 black women with their Ph.D. in physics in the country!”
Fighting against the isolation of uniqueness
Dr. Jessica Esquivel recalls being a nontraditional student and being “the only” when she entered graduate school for physics — the only woman in her class, the only Black, the only Mexican, the only lesbian — and all of that made her feel very isolated.
“On top of such rigorous material, the isolation and otherness that happens due to being the only or one of few is an added burden marginalized people, especially those with multiple marginalized identities, have to deal with,” Dr. Esquivel told BeLatina in an email interview. On top of feeling like an outsider, isolation was also consuming. “Being away from family at a predominately white institution, where the number of microaggressions was constant, really affected my mental health and, in turn, my coursework and research, so it was important to surround myself with mentors who supported me and believed in my ability to be a scientist.”
While she anticipated that the physics curriculum would be incredibly challenging, she was definitely not prepared for how hard the rest of the experience would be and how it would impact her as a student and a scientist.
The challenges she faced professionally and personally made her realize early on just how crucial representation is in academia and all fields, but especially in STEM. “It was really impactful for me to learn that there were other Black women who had made it out of the grad school metaphorical trenches. It’s absolutely important to create inclusive spaces where marginalized people, including Black, Latina, and genderqueer people, can thrive,” she said.
“The secrets of our universe don’t discriminate, these secrets can and should be unraveled by all those who wish to embark on that journey, and my aim is to clear as many barriers and leave these physics spaces better than I entered them.”
When inclusion and equal opportunities are the ultimate goal
Dr. Jessica Esquivel isn’t just dedicating her time and energy to studying complex scientific concepts — think quantum entanglement, space-time fabric, the building blocks of the universe… some seriously abstract physics concepts straight out of a sci-fi movie, as she explains. On top of her research, she put in so much extra work to show people, especially younger generations of women of color, that the physics and STEM world is not some old white man’s club where this prestigious knowledge is only available to them. Dr. Esquivel is an expert in her field; she knows things that no one else currently knows and has the ability and the power to transfer that knowledge to others and pass it down to others. There is a place for everyone, including people who look like her, in the STEM world, and she’s on a mission to inspire others while working to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM space.
“Many of us who are underrepresented in STEM have taken on the responsibility of spearheading institutional change toward more just, equitable, and inclusive working environments as a form of survival,” she explains. “I’m putting in more work on top of the research I do because I recognize that I do better research if I feel supported and if I feel like I can bring my whole self to my job. My hope is that one day Black and brown women and gender-queer folks interested in science can pursue just that and not have to fight for their right to be a scientist or defend that they are worthy of doing science.”
Sunday night’s BET Awards was not only a big night for Sean “Diddy” Combs but also for Howard University in D.C.
While accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, Diddy pledged to donate $1 million to both Howard University and Jackson State University.
“I want to donate a million dollars to Howard University,” Combs said to the audience before he left the stage. “Also, I’m gonna drop another million dollars on Deion Sanders and Jackson State, because we should play for us. Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart, I love y’all.”
The announcement came as Combs accepted the award from surprise presenter Kanye West alongside Babyface.
“I got this dream of Black people being free,” Combs said. “I got this dream of us controlling our own destiny. I got this dream of us taking accountability and stop killing each other. I got this dream of us being rich and wealthy and living on the same block. I have this dream of us unifying.”
“Y’all know I wouldn’t be here without Howard University, Combs said before starting an “HU” chant during his speech.
Combs attended Howard University in the late 1980s but left to pursue a career in music. In 2014, he returned to receive an honorary doctorate from the university.
Also during Combs’ speech, he paid homage to the late Andre Harrell, who launched his career, as well as his mother for working several jobs during his childhood and the late Kim Porter, his longtime girlfriend and mother of his three children.
Click here to read the full article on ABC 13 News.
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