National STEM Day
November 8 is National STEM Day, a day to inspire kids to explore and pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 87% of the U.S. workforce was not employed in STEM occupations as of 2016. 40% of those non-STEM workers say they were at least somewhat interested in pursuing a STEM job or career at some point in their lives, but chose a new path because of cost and time barriers, a newfound interest, or believed that STEM was too hard. Making sure that more young people who are interested in STEM follow through to a STEM career is important to the advancement of our country. It starts with providing access and exposure to STEM for all students.
For nearly 40 years, NAF has transformed the learning environment to align with growing industry needs to ensure that students are exposed to a wealth of options available to them after high school. As STEM-related industries continue to grow, NAF brings the education and business worlds together to build a pipeline of skilled and diverse talent to fulfill jobs that don’t exist yet. Here is an example of how NAF’s educational design has supported the STEM aspirations of students:
Award-Winning App Developers
Together with Lenovo and MIT, NAF enables the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs through Lenovo Scholar Network. The mission of the initiative is to encourage interest in STEM subjects to underserved high school students by providing them with an innovative curriculum centered on mobile app development and delivery. Since the beginning of the program in 2012, many apps were created. Most recently, Abby and Rajbir from Academy of Finance and Enterprise created AOFEZAPP — an app which allows students to have fun while retaining useful information. The app was one of the Honorable Mentions in the “Quality of Graphical User Interface Design” for the national 2018 Lenovo Scholar Network Mobile App Development Competition.
Sophomore students Udai Virk and Jeffrey Li developed an app, Respirate, to supplement pulmonary rehabilitation and provide a more accessible resource to those diagnosed with COPD and other respiratory diseases. Their app was one of the six winners for the national competition and named the Fan Favorite winner. Udai and Jeffrey recognized a healthcare issue that could be solved with technology and used their mobile app building skills gained from being a part of a NAF student in the Lenovo Scholar Network to address it.
At the Forefront of the Technological Revolution in the Tourism Industry
Nashara Frazier was a NAF Academy of Hospitality and Tourism student who followed her love of tourism to a career with Expedia. In her first management role, she was responsible for growing a new company in the budding online travel world. Nashara was able to tap into the knowledge she gained from her NAF experience to help her succeed in an industry that was changing everything in the way it operates.
“I joined NAF’s Academy of Hospitality and Tourism at Miramar High School and immediately felt a part of something special. My NAF academy experience taught me that travel was an industry full of innovation and opportunity.”
Leveling the Playing Field for Girls in STEM
Khalia Braswell’s career in tech started at a NAF Academy of Information Technology in Charlotte, North Carolina. Her first programming course at her NAF academy sparked a passion for tech. It wasn’t until college that Khalia realized that tech was a male-dominated industry. Later, Khalia made the decision to leave her position at Apple to increase access to tech for females through her start-up, INTech Camp for Girls. Because of the opportunities, Khalia was given in high school, she was able to work for one of the world’s top tech companies and build her own nonprofit to inform and inspire girls to innovate in the technology industry.
“There were a lot of women in my high school computer classes — both my teachers and my classmates. So honestly, I had no idea that there are so few women in STEM until I got into college. But by then, it was too late. I was hooked.”
Creating Access for All Zip Codes
Diana Ramos is an engineer who almost missed her calling, because of the lack of access to a quality education. Diana is from a rural area where business opportunities are few and far between. When the opportunity to join a new NAF Academy of Engineering — twelve miles away — presented itself, Diana took it.
“I’m 24 years old — I’m the first person in my family to go to college. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. I’ll be graduating with a master’s degree in Engineering Management this December. It’s because of my NAF academy that I got here so fast. It’s because of my mother that I had the courage to come so far. Thank you NAF for sending the elevator of success back down to everybody so we can all rise together.”