STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Laura Mulrooney

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

We caught up with Top 100 student Tyler Blake for our most recent spotlight. This week, it's all about Laura Mulrooney from Raleigh, North Carolina!

Laura is an enthusiast of the great outdoors who loves to get her hands dirty while exploring the world around her. She is a volunteer with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences where she has spent the past five years conducting research and presenting her findings. 

She also enjoys the fine arts, spending her free time in choral performance, playing the piano, and practicing several styles of dance. 

She has committed to attend the University of Florida where she intends to major in Geology and Earth Science. 

Read more about Laura below in her own words.

Laura Mulrooney

Senior

Millbrook High School

Raleigh, NC

 Laura pauses to snap a quick pic during a day-long hike in Yosemite during spring break.

Laura pauses to snap a quick pic during a day-long hike in Yosemite during spring break.

For fun, I like to...hang out and watch HGTV with my younger brother. 

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I have fought Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS/RSD) in my right leg for years. But I have beat it and am able to walk again despite a time when I was told it was unlikely I would be able to. 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt -they seem like such interesting people who managed to have such a humongous impact on the world and life I know today. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...was my 6th grade English teacher- I still use his tricks and techniques today, even in AP English!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s, 'Seafood Watch' app. If that doesn't describe me, I don't know what would lol. 

After high school, my next step is...to go to college in order to learn and explore the different pathways within geology, in order to best determine what I would like to devote my time and research to.

In ten years, I see myself...having built a strong career, that is ready to grow with a good circle of friends and family by my side.

My greatest dream is...to work at the Smithsonian museum as a paleontologist. Wouldn't that be the life!

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...that it allows me to keep all of my accomplishments in one place for whenever I need to pull them out for an application. It also helps me to hold myself accountable and keep everything I do up to my personal standards, all the while allowing me to see the future I am working towards. It's my constant reminder of why I do what I do!

We hope for the best for you Laura, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Tyler Blake

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

We caught up with Top 100 student Jake Chao for our most recent spotlight. This week, we're checking in with Tyler Blake from Provo, Utah. 

Music is a big part of Tyler's life, where he has distinguished himself in both instrumental and vocal performance. His talent on the piano has led him to perform in concert tours of Central America and Southeast Asia , and he has been honored for his ability at the state-wide level several times. He was also named to Utah's All-State Choir, and he serves as president of his school's choir team. Academically, Tyler has earned recognition as a National Merit Scholar as well as an AP Scholar with Distinction.  On the playing field, he serves as captain of his club soccer team. 

He has committed to attending Brigham Young University - where he was awarded the institution's selective Russell M. Nelson Scholarship - beginning this summer. He is interested in pursuing a future in both the musical and psychological fields. 

Read more about Tyler below in his own words.

Tyler Blake

Senior

Timpview High School

Provo, UT

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For fun, I like to...meet new people. I have always been fascinated by people. Everyone has a different story to tell, and each one is worth hearing.  

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I absolutely love animals. I have a pet dog named Chester, and he's definitely one of the highlights of every day. 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Johann Sebastian Bach. Music is a large part of my life, and Bach is by far my favorite composer to play. It would be an amazing experience to meet him, learn from him, and get a firsthand account of how he composed and played. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my 11th grade english teacher, Mrs. VanOrden. She had a way of creating a classroom environment in which grades were not the focus. Instead, she was able to focus on learning to write, and learning to love writing. There was never any pressure to perform at a certain level. Just a love of writing that she was able to transfer to each of her students. I learned more in that class than I have in any other. 

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...GroupMe. I know it's super boring, but I don't really ever download apps on my phone. GroupMe just lets me have a simple and easy way to manage group texts with various organizations I am a part of. I'd rather be out doing something than looking at a new app on my phone. 

After high school, my next step is...attending Brigham Young University this summer. After this summer, I will be taking a break from college to serve a 2 year LDS mission, after which I will continue to pursue my educational goals at BYU. 

In ten years, I see myself...still in school, working on a doctorate degree. I also see myself married in ten years, possibly with a child. Family has always been a major part of my life, and will continue to be so in ten years.

My greatest dream is...to find a way that I can really make a difference in the world. Whether this is through humanitarian efforts, or simply through my career and research, I want to create a way that I can help thousands upon thousands of people improve their lives. Service has always brought me great joy, and I hope to be able to continue to find ways to serve more and more people throughout my life. 

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...it helps you to organize your portfolio. While completing college and scholarship applications throughout the last year, there was a lot of different aspects of my life that I needed to write about. STEM Premier gave me an opportunity to organize the highlights of my life in a concise and simple manner that helped me to organize my ideas for any essays I needed to write for college. 

We hope for the best for you Tyler, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Jake Chao

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Last week, the spotlight was on Paige Davis from Kansas. Now it's Jake Chao who's next up! Hailing from Cypress, California, Jake has excelled both inside and outside the classroom. As a talented public speaker, Jake has competed on debate teams, mock trial teams, and was elected as student body president of his school. He was also named the Youth Leadership America Speaker of the Year. He is a National Merit Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction. Athletically, he has been honored as a leader of his cross country team as well as his track and field team. 

Read more about Jake below in his own words.

Jake Chao

Senior

Oxford Academy

Cypress, CA

 Jake (left) with his friends after their annual Senior Citizens Prom, a dance they help coordinate, which allows students to dance and interact with the elderly at a local senior citizen center.  

Jake (left) with his friends after their annual Senior Citizens Prom, a dance they help coordinate, which allows students to dance and interact with the elderly at a local senior citizen center.  

For fun, I like to...run and watch MasterChef. I am slowly getting better at cooking! 

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I am red-green colorblind! 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Jeff Bezos. After reading about Amazon in the book The Everything Store, I have taken Jeff Bezos as the model to follow in innovation and work ethic. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...Mr. Jun Cuenca. He truly cares for his students, and his dedication to the organizations he advises is beyond belief. Thank you Mr. Cuenca!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...Attendify. I downloaded it to use at the HOSA State Leadership Conference in Anaheim!

After high school, my next step is...attend college at Stanford University. I hope to pursue a degree in economics and possibly create a startup. 

In ten years, I see myself...working hard in life to attain success. I might still be working for an education, but I hope to be making my way in the business world. 

My greatest dream is...to learn how to cook! I am slowly getting better at it, but I want to have one signature dish that I've mastered. 

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...its downloadable report of my profile! It works as a resume when I need to fill out other applications.

We hope for the best for you Jake, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Paige Davis

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Last week, we shined the spotlight on Sophia Reck from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. This week, Paige Davis from Derby, Kansas takes center stage! One of the top students in the entire state, Paige is a highly engaged member of both Project Lead The Way and HOSA - Future Health Professionals who has committed to attend the University of North Texas. She was recognized by the Wichita Business Journal as one of their "Young Achievers" and was one of only three students from her high school to be named as a National Merit Finalist!

Read more about Paige below in her own words.

Paige Davis

Senior

Derby High School

Derby, KS

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For fun, I like to...binge-watch my favorite shows on Netflix or go to the movies. 

Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I am a self-proclaimed concert junkie. I have been to three in the last six months alone and I already have five more planned for the rest of the year--my bank account does not thank me. 

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...my favorite female scientist, Rosalind Franklin, who significantly contributed to our understanding of DNA, RNA, and viruses.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my Project Lead The Way biomedical pathway teacher, Mrs Long.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the puzzle game Monument Valley 2. 

After high school, my next step is...to go to the University of North Texas to pursue a degree in biology with a concentration in pre-med. 

In ten years, I see myself...beginning my first job in the 'real-world.' Though I know my plans may change throughout college, right now the plan is to become a medical researcher. 

My greatest dream is...to be able to have a home and work life that makes me happy and the ability to travel on a semi-regular basis. 

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...being able to organize all of my accomplishments in a neat and visually-pleasing format.

We hope for the best for you Paige, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Sophia Reck

We were proud to recently unveil the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100 students.   

Hailing from all across the nation, the students of the Top 100 represent a wide variety of talent, skills, and backgrounds. We wanted to get to know these students better and showcase the personalities behind the STEM Premier platform!

Sophia Reck is our first student in the spotlight. From marine biology to choral performance to the culinary arts, it's safe to say that Sophia has quite a range of hobbies! She is highly involved in her Pennsylvania community and has her eyes set on The Big Apple for college next fall. What a fantastic student to kick off our 2018 Top 100 spotlights! 

Read more about Sophia below in her own words.

Sophia Reck

Senior

Wyomissing Area High School

Wyomissing, PA

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For fun, I like to...learn about new cultures and then cook or bake their cuisine. I have a passion for both anthropology and cooking, so I like to combine them in my spare time. One of my favorite recipes was nian gao,  also known as Chinese New Year cake.

Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I traveled to New Brunswick the summer after my sophomore year to study marine biology— specifically whales and other marine mammals. Although I don’t want to pursue biology as my career, I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean and its myriad of creatures.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Grace Hopper, widely regarded as one of the first computer scientists. Being a woman in STEM is difficult in 2018, so I can hardly imagine the courage and grit it took to be successful in the ‘50s and ‘60s! 

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my computer science teacher, Mr. Minich. I entered his classroom as both the only freshman and only girl in his Java programming course. Without his help and encouragement, I would never have been able to accomplish all I have throughout my high school career.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the NYC Subway app. I will be spending my college years in the big apple (foreshadowing 101), so, I wanted to get acquainted with the metro system so I’m ready to go in the fall.

After high school, my next step is...to attend New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering for Computer Science. As I alluded to in the previous answer, New York City is going to be my new home for at least the next four years. Go Violet!

In ten years, I see myself...as a project manager for a technology company in New York or another large northeastern city. My dream employer is Google, but I’m sure that’s true for lots of people! If someone from Google reads this, I’d love to meet up since I’ll be very close to your New York headquarters soon!

My greatest dream is...be able to inspire other girls to pursue their interest in STEM. I realize that not many people had access to the wonderful opportunities I did during high school, so working towards availability of technology for all is still imperative. Hopefully, by the time I’m finished, being a woman in STEM will just be the norm!

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...being able to connect and interface with plenty of colleges, companies, and other engaged high schoolers. It’s an amazing resource that I’d recommend to any ambitious and driven student.

We hope for the best for you Sophia, and we’re proud to have you be a STEM Premier user and part of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

STEM Premier Releases 2018 Top 100 Students

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It's once again that time of year! And so it is with much pride and excitement that we announce STEM Premier’s 4th annual Top 100 rankings: The 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

 This year, over 350,000 STEM Premier student users attending over 19,000 high schools from across the country competed for a place in the Top 100, making this accomplishment a testament to the Top 100’s academic and extracurricular endeavors.

 This year’s Top 100 features students from 29 different states, with the most highly represented states being Texas and California. High school seniors comprised roughly 75% of the top 100, but twenty-two juniors also made the list. An additional handful of talented sophomores also earned the distinction.

 Top 100 students are comprised of valedictorians, National Merit Scholar Finalists, AP Scholars,Science Olympiad Champions, Girl Scouts & Eagle Scouts, Presidential Scholars, and Project Lead The Way (PLTW) students.

What makes the STEM Premier Top 100 unique is the diversity of educational and professional paths represented. While many of the Top 100 plan to attend a traditional four-year university - including reputable schools such as Stanford and MIT - others will be continuing their STEM education at two-year technical schools and community colleges in fields such as advanced manufacturing, information technology, and healthcare. The result is an elite group of students who reflect the shifting realities of the U.S. economic, educational, and professional environments. 

 How are students chosen for the Top 100? We utilize a unique algorithm which accounts for over 30 different factors from each student’s profile. This process quantifies and synthesizes the profile information and creates a star rating for each individual student. Students considered for the Top 100 are then contacted and verified to ensure accuracy and integrity of the information added to their STEM Premier profile.

 While we are proud to announce this year’s Top 100, we would also like to recognize every single one of the 350,000+ students on STEM Premier’s platform who are pursuing their educational and professional dreams. We wish all the best of luck as you shoot for the stars!

 Click here to view the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100

STEM Premier Spotlight: Oklahoma

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 3,500+
  • Top College Interests: University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, University of Central Oklahoma, University of Tulsa
  • Top Intended Majors: Nursing, Mechanical Engineering, Biology, Computer Science

April’s State Spotlight takes us to the Midwest and the Sooner State for a closer look at STEM Premier students in Oklahoma. The vast plains of Oklahoma may mislead you into believing that the state primarily is focused on agriculture, but that would be inaccurate.

The public sector currently comprises the largest portion of Oklahoma’s economy, accounting for roughly 16% of the state’s GDP in 2016. Outside of the government, mining, manufacturing, trade, and finance are Oklahoma’s predominant industries. Oklahoma’s economy has steadily grown over the past fifteen years, and now comprises a larger portion of the total U.S. economy than it did in 2002.

Oklahoma’s largest population of STEM Premier students is located in the state capitol of Oklahoma City, while other hubs exist in Tulsa and Norman. Its students tend to have their eyes on the healthcare industry as reflected by the number of related fields among their top career interests; many of them want to be nurses, surgeons, pediatricians, and healthcare support specialists.

ACT’s 2017 Condition of STEM Report on Oklahoma indicates that 47% of Oklahoma’s high school seniors express an interest in STEM, which is in line with the national average. However, the report notes, only 16% of students had both an expressed interest in STEM as well as an ACT Interest Inventory score which indicated proficiency in a STEM field. This may foreshadow a dearth of in-state STEM talent in the coming years; something STEM employers may want to take note of.

Learn more about STEM in Oklahoma by checking out ACT's full report.

Looking Closer: Student Interest in Social Sciences

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In recent posts, we shed some light on some of the career interests of STEM Premier student members. Now we’re delving deeper into select industries to see exactly what careers students have on their radar. Today, we’re looking at the social sciences.

 Although the social sciences and humanities have recently been the object of some derision - especially amid the debate over how well U.S. universities are adequately preparing students for work in the modern economy - they are still extremely relevant. The social sciences are comprised of a variety of disciplines delving into the “softer” aspects of our world - as opposed to “hard” sciences such as physics, chemistry, or biology. These include cultural, sociological, and historical research areas.

 Here’s just a few examples of the social science occupations which have captured the attention of STEM Premier students:

  • Archaeologists
  • Economists
  • Historians
  • Geographers
  • Political Scientists
  • Anthropologists

Is your school or organization looking for these kinds of students? If so, join STEM Premier today and start connecting.

 

Imaginations "Rohming" Wild: Homeschooled Robotics Team Heads to World Championship

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Rohming Robots runs on passion. And now this motivated group of home-schooled students is taking that passion to the world stage.

Established in 2014 by Head Coach Linda Stewart, Rohming Robots - a Charleston, South Carolina-based robotics team - will be heading to Houston, Texas in April to compete against thousands of like-minded students in the FIRST Tech Challenge World Championship.

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FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC for short) is a competitive robotics league which pits grade 7-12 students against each other in a head-to-head format. Teams are responsible for designing, building, and programming their robots. Assisted by coaches and mentors, the teams build their mechanical “athletes” with pieces made of various materials, and use sensors and programs to execute their gameplans. Teams are also required to keep an engineering notebook; a log of the team’s construction process from the first blueprint sketches to the last screw.

What makes Roaming Robots unique is who they are. The team is comprised entirely of homeschooled and virtual students ranging from 8th to 12th grade. The team divides responsibilities based on their interests and skills; a strategy they say keeps the process fun for everyone involved. It’s not just nuts, bolts, and programming which are involved in the process. The team also has roles for important non-technical duties such as community outreach and fundraising.  

“Every year, they want to do a little more,” says Stewart, “go a little farther.”

And go farther they did.

A 4-H project club primarily sponsored by STEM Premier partner SME, Rohming Robots received FTC’s Think Award, honoring the best engineering notebook from among 72 teams. That achievement earned them their spot in the World Championship next month. Their competitive robot - named Tod - was custom-built using machined and 3-D printed parts.

Rohming Robots recently became one of STEM Premier’s newest organizations to join our online community. This will allow its team members to gain access to the same types of opportunities which tend to benefit students from more traditional K-12 backgrounds. We’re excited to know that these students will be able to let their passion and talent shine forth, and find opportunities they may have not otherwise realized.

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Stewart is excited for her young team. "I reviewed all the ways that club members can use STEM premier to help them connect with local businesses to better explore their interests, with colleges they are interested in, and with potential internships and employers for their future careers," she says.

"Team members are excited about showcasing their specific talents and interests using their STEM Premier profiles and adding the SME badge to their profiles because of the long history of support our local chapter has given us.”

After all, it’s not just about the mechatronics. The talents of Rohming Robot’s members extend far beyond the robotics wrestling ring, ranging from collaborative teamwork to project management to public speaking. It takes all sorts of skill sets to run a successful team. And these students are making it happen!

STEM Premier wishes the entire Rohming Robots team good luck in Houston!

ACT Releases 2017 Report on The Condition of STEM

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This week, our partner ACT released their 2017 edition of The Condition of STEM report.

Using comprehensive data gathered from the U.S. high school graduating class of 2017, ACT compiles and organizes the report in order to analyze the current landscape of student interest and achievement in STEM. The report is designed to assist stakeholders - such as educational organizations and industry-leaders -  to better understand this landscape and drive their own efforts to improve educational and workplace success.

This year’s report highlights several key findings and trends; some encouraging and some worrisome. For example, ACT’s data reveals that the oft-referenced STEM gender gap continues to persist. It also finds that physical geography plays a critical role in STEM achievement; a phenomenon we delved into last month.

However, for each of these areas of concern, ACT features “promising practices” gleaned from states, nonprofits, businesses and other organizations who are committed to making a difference. One such practice featured is the 100kin10  designed to address the critical shortage of STEM teachers in our nation’s schools.

The report concludes by providing several policy recommendations to be considered by government leaders, such as establishing loan-forgiveness programs for STEM educators.

In addition to the overall report, The Condition of STEM is also examined on a state-by-state basis. In fact, these are the same reports which we reference in our state spotlight blog series; New York was our most recent!

As part of our collaboration with ACT in compiling the 2017 Condition of STEM, each state report contains an example of a STEM Premier student user residing there.

This year’s report is yet another example of ACT’s commitment to driving STEM success in the U.S.

STEM Premier Spotlight: New York

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 5,100+
  • Top College Interests: Cornell University, Stony Brook University, New York University, Columbia University, SUNY at Binghamton
  • Top Intended Majors: Biology, Bioengineering, Computer Science

Our next state spotlight take us to the Empire State for a closer look at STEM Premier students in New York. Powered by the immense hub of human activity that is New York City, New York possesses the third-largest economy in the U.S., behind only California and Texas. It’s economy is as diverse as it is large, with strong representation in healthcare, education, construction, hospitality, retail services, tourism, banking, and legal services.

New York’s largest population of STEM Premier students is concentrated - of course - in New York City, home to one of STEM Premier's newest collegiate partners - The Cooper Union. Other hubs of students exist in Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, and Binghamton. However, students can indeed be found in every corner of the state, including as far north as Massena and Plattsburgh.

ACT’s 2016 Condition of STEM Report on New York shows that overall STEM interest has grown significantly from 46% of students in 2012 to 50% in 2016. Most states have exhibited only modest increases (or even decreases) during that span. 50% student interest in New York now outpaces the national average of 48%. This rise seems primarily driven by growing student interest in engineering, mathematics, and computer science fields.

STEM Premier’s own data reflects this shift. Among STEM Premier’s New York students, three of the most popular career interests include computer programming, mechanical engineering, and computer science.

Learn more about STEM in New York by checking out ACT's full report.

New Report Identifies Vital Skills for the Future of the Workforce

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As the world’s economy continues to evolve, the skills and practices necessary to keep pace are evolving with it. STEM Premier has been there every step of the way offering students, job-seekers, and organizations a new and better way to engage each other. 

What's the evidence?  Recently, the California-based think tank Institute for the Future teamed up with the talent-management software company Cornerstone OnDemand to identify a short list of skills which will be vital for tomorrow’s professionals.

Two specific skills stood out in the joint report. They stood out because, not only are they important for students and young professionals to understand, but also for the schools and businesses who seek to attract them to their organizations and institutions.  

They are also exactly what STEM Premier was designed for. 

Make yourself known

“Brands aren’t for celebrities anymore,” the report notes. Hard copy resumes are making their last stand in a ever-evolving digital environment. Online professional platforms are quickly becoming the new standard. The reasons are obvious. Digital formats are easier to work with and share. They allow for greater flexibility and are much more dynamic. They allow applicants and job seekers the opportunity to uniquely express themselves and show off their talents by uploading videos, attaching documents, and more. These online profiles also allow schools and employers to find exactly the type of candidates they are looking for, and can truly get to know the person they are accepting or hiring. Simply put, everyone wins.

STEM Premier allows everyone - including organizations - to tailor their profile in order to make them stand out. 

Build your tribe

Industries and institutions can change rapidly, but the practice of building and maintaining personal networks will always be critical. Online platforms allow organizations to cut straight through traditional barriers - such as geography - to find and connect with the talent they need. As online platforms become the norm, the barriers which have prevented talented individuals from being noticed will crumble. The end result will be an environment in which the most qualified applicants are found and engaged every day around the globe.

STEM Premier provides a way for organizations and individuals to reach out and connect with each other. Forget jobs and college fairs; take your talent search directly to the prospects you are most interested in!

 

STEM Premier is proud to be part of the vanguard of this revolution. The future is coming. Is your organization ready?

Connecting America's Rural Students with Higher Education

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As debate intensifies over the future of higher education in the U.S., much of the focus has centered around the issue of racial and ethnic diversity. However, there is substantial constituency of America’s K-12 students who are going largely ignored: students from the country’s rural areas.

A recent NPR piece - based on findings from The Hechinger Report - highlights this glaring issue. It is highlighted by an alarming statistic. Despite the fact that rural students graduate from high school at a greater rate than the national average, they attend college at lower rates than their urban and suburban peers.

There have been many causes attributed to this phenomenon. Mining, farming, and manufacturing jobs which used to be a hallmark of rural economies have either moved away, become automated, or shut down entirely. The result is that there are simply less opportunities in the communities these students grow up in. Paradoxically, instead of seeking out opportunities in larger cities, most rural students find themselves as products of their environment and lose hope that opportunity awaits them. Like all good sons and daughters, they also want to stay close to home. 

Acknowledging this issue "is critical to our future, not just for employment but for civil discourse and kids feeling like they can contribute and achieve and not feeling lost and ignored," says Jeff Hawkins, executive director of the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative, a nonprofit group which encourages students in Kentucky’s coal-mining southeast corner to go to college.

As we’ve noted before in a previous blog post, STEM Premier understands this challenge, and is one of our foremost priorities towards achieving educational equality in the U.S. for all students.

STEM Premier provides that crucial “missing link” for colleges to recruit in rural areas. Oftentimes, college recruiters are pressured to maximize their scarce time and resources. As as result, they typically visit more highly-populated areas where they can interact with the highest number of students. Rural students become “landlocked” and isolated from these opportunities. Some of America’s brightest students are going unnoticed.

Using our platform, colleges and universities can eliminate geographic boundaries and engage these rural students in an online ecosystem. Not only does this save educational institutions time and money, but it meets these young digital natives where they are: on their mobile devices which have become ubiquitous regardless of where they reside.  

President Calls for Expansion of Vocational Education in State of the Union Address

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President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union Address on January 30 was laden with bold visions and plans for the country. For proponents and advocates of vocational education, one particular statement stood out during the eighty-minute speech.

“Let's invest in workforce development,” he began, “and let's invest in job training, which we need so badly. Let's open great vocational schools, so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential.”

This proclamation was music to the ears of many who believe that too much emphasis has recently been placed on traditional four-year degrees which has left trade and vocational education neglected. Workforce statistics show that gaping holes still persist in filling jobs which require vocational training and trade education.

NPR Education Correspondent Anya Kamenetz - commenting on Trump’s statement - elaborated further on how the U.S. government is currently addressing this pressing issue. She notes that U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos supports expanding vocational education, and she recently spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors about the range of innovations she would like to see, such as “industry-recognized certifications, two-year degrees, stackable credits, credentials and licenses, advanced degrees, badges, four-year degrees, microdegrees” and “apprenticeships.”

The Senate is also currently holding committee hearings on the re-authorization of the Higher Education Act by which the nation’s student financial aid system operates.

New Research Reveals STEM Workforce Trends

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A recently published report by the Pew Research Center has shed light on some intriguing trends in regards to STEM employment and education in the U.S. While some of the findings may be old news or simply confirmation of already widely-accepted beliefs, the research nevertheless provides some interesting data.

Utilizing U.S. Census Bureau data, the report focused primarily on STEM primarily as it relates to gender and ethnic diversity. However, some broads trends are also revealed. Here are just a few of the major conclusions presented by the report.

  1. The STEM workforce continues to grow: From 1990 to 2016, employment in the STEM fields has grown a remarkable 79%, from approximately 9.7 million workers to 17.3 million. While a large fraction of STEM professionals work in the healthcare industry, most of this growth has occurred in the area of computer science. Employment growth in this area was an astronomical 338% between 1990 and 2016. This comes as no suprise to us at STEM Premier, where many of our student users have indicated professional interests in both the healthcare and computer science areas.

  2. Roughly 1 in 3 STEM workers do not possess a bachelor’s degree: Although most people would tend to associate STEM workers with high levels of education, the truth is that many STEM positions are being filled by individuals who possess the necessary skills, despite lacking a four-year degree. In fact, 35% of the STEM workforce lacks a bachelor’s degree. 15% report having an associate degree and 14% report having some college education but no degree.

  3. The representation of women varies by STEM discipline: Females represent roughly 75% of healthcare practitioners and technicians. Of the 9 million workers in the industry, nearly 6.7 million of them are female. However, in other areas, female representation is much smaller. This is most marked in engineering (14%) and computer science (25%) industries.

When it comes to the next generation of talented professionals, STEM Premier is on the front lines. That means we are in a unique position to foresee many of these trends playing out. But it also means that we are able to see new trends developing. For instance, despite the low representation of females in the engineering and computer science fields, many female students on our platform have indicated interest in these career areas.

Want to find out who they are? Create an account and start connecting today!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Nickie Daves

We’ve recently been spotlighting some of the incredible K-12 educators we have had the privilege of working with. These are energetic, forward-thinking, and fun individuals who have implemented the STEM Premier platform in their schools, districts, and counties.

Nickie Daves is a health science teacher who encourages her students to utilize STEM Premier to help gain access to scholarships and internship opportunities. Let’s check out what she has to say!

                              Nickie Daves, RN, CCRN                         Floyd. D. Johnson Technology Center                                   York School District                                   York, South Carolina

                            Nickie Daves, RN, CCRN

                     Floyd. D. Johnson Technology Center

                               York School District

                               York, South Carolina

How did you get into education? What drew you to the profession?
I am actually a registered nurse, by trade. For Health Science, a healthcare professional is requested to teach the course. Being a nurse involves educating patients on a daily basis. I found that I really enjoyed that portion and knew that I would one day transition into education. I love seeing the light bulb going off and being able to help the learner take charge of the information that they learn. I never thought I would teach students in the secondary field, but I love it very much.

What is your favorite thing about education?
I enjoy working with the next generation of healthcare professionals. I love building the relationships with the students which will continue on in future courses.  

Tell us about your school!
I work for York School District One in the Floyd D. Johnson Technology Center. Our technology center and high school are together within the same building, which decreases many barriers that would exist if the two sections were not comprehensive. A student can leave their English class and then go straight to a building & construction class.

How is STEM Premier helping/will help your school or district?
It’s a wonderful asset offered to the students in the way of scholarship opportunities, internships, and showcasing their accomplishments. All sophomores and juniors are exposed to STEM Premier and create an account. They are encouraged to keep their accounts up-to-date and utilize them to highlight themselves for post-secondary opportunities.

Any neat stories so far?
Students are always so excited to let the staff know that certain schools have viewed their account or that they have been offered internships!

How did you implement STEM Premier? Are there any suggestions you would have for  other schools on how to best implement STEM Premier?
I teach courses within the Health Science cluster, which are classified as elective courses. Despite this, I always encourage my students to complete community service projects, continue to build their resumes, and to search constantly for scholarships. Our community has a poverty rate of over 70%, so it is imperative that students have the ability to attend schools once they are accepted. I give numerous assignments for the students to submit proof of scholarships completions to me. Most of the students go through STEM Premier to do so.

What is your favorite part of the system?
The ability to export all of my profile data into a ready-to-use resume.

What is the future impact that STEM Premier will have on your school or district?
I believe its social media-like functionality will keep it relevant with the current generation who will soon be entering the workforce. During my advisory meetings - which include healthcare members within my community - I have recommended that their companies utilize STEM Premier to help reduce the impact of the impending nursing shortage.

Looking Closer: Student Interest in Visual and Performing Arts

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In recent posts, we shed some light on some of the career interests of STEM Premier student members. Now we’re delving deeper into select industries to see exactly what careers students have on their radar. Today, we’re looking at the visual and performing arts industry.

In the modern U.S. economy, much ado is being made about technological skills and STEM proficiency. But it seems like almost nobody is talking about occupations and careers in the arts. According to the National Endowment for the Arts and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, arts and cultural production contributed over $700 billion to the U.S. economy in 2013; a 32.5% increase over 1998. During that same 15-year span, consumer spending on the arts increased annually by 10%. It’s safe to say that society will always appreciate art, music, and entertainment, so this industry will always have occupations requiring new talent. In fact, many of these occupations require proficiency in STEM disciplines (such as math and computer-aided design)!

Here’s just a few examples of the visual and performing arts occupations which have captured the attention of STEM Premier students:

  • Art Directors
  • Choreographers
  • Fashion Designers
  • Illustrators
  • Musicians
  • Photographers

Is your school or organization looking for these kinds of students? If so, join STEM Premier today and start connecting.

A New Year Brings New Possibilities

Yet another year is upon us, and that means new resolutions and new possibilities. As we reflect on 2017, we are encouraged by the many milestones STEM Premier has achieved.

As 2018 begins, the STEM Premier platform is now home to more than 315,000 students across the nation, representing all fifty states.

We have forged new partnerships with highly-respected organizations such as the National Society of High School Scholars, a prestigious international academic organization, and Precision Exams, a visionary testing partner dedicated to promoting industry-aligned CTE exams.

We have taken our existing partnerships to the next level, such a our collaboration with Future Business Leaders of America, who now has official FBLA digital badges available on STEM Premier. We’ve also continued our great relationship with ACT, who has made STEM Premier the only app where talent can request and earn their ACT WorkKeys Digital Badge, an accolade which indicates that the recipient has earned their National Career Readiness Certificate.

Many fantastic colleges such as Georgia Southern University, Pittsburg State University, and Charleston Southern University have joined the STEM Premier platform to find and recruit talent to their respective institutions.

We’ve connected students to great companies like Cummins Turbo Diesel, BMW, Boeing, and many others. In fact, as of 2018, over 270 colleges and companies have joined STEM Premier!

We know 2018 holds much more in store for everyone involved with STEM Premier, and we wish our students and partners a prosperous and successful new year!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Arizona

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 3,000+
  • Top College Interests: Arizona State University, University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, Grand Canyon University, Stanford University
  • Top Intended Majors: Nursing, Pre-Med, Computer Science

 Our next state spotlight takes us across the Grand Canyon for a closer look at the state of Arizona. Arizona is well-known for its tourism industry, but the state’s economy is much broader. Its utility, transportation, financial, and healthcare industries are also major components of the state’s economic foundation.  Arizona is also home to one of the nation’s top STEM Schools: BASIS Tucson North

 Arizona’s largest population of STEM Premier students is concentrated in the state capitol of Phoenix. Other hubs of students exist in Tucson - home of the University of Arizona, Flagstaff, and Yuma.

 Medical fields dominate the top occupational interests of Arizona’s students, and include surgeons, nursing, pediatrics, and physical therapy.

 ACT’s 2016 Condition of STEM Report on Arizona shows that overall STEM interest among the state’s students remains steady at 48%, which mirrors the national average. However, particular interest in the mathematics and computer science fields has increased, while medical and healthcare interest has sunk a bit.

 Learn more about STEM in Arizona by checking out ACT's full report.

ASM International and STEM Premier Team Up

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Sometimes Christmas comes early, and for us at STEM Premier, nothing brings us more holiday cheer than establishing a new partnership with yet another distinguished organization.

ASM International - the world's largest and most established materials information society - and STEM Premier have joined arms in promoting their members and the field of materials science. With an organizational history dating back to an era of blacksmithing, ASM International seeks to benefit the materials community by providing scientific, engineering and technical knowledge, education, networking and professional development.

ASM International is headquartered at Materials Park - a 45-acre engineering marvel - outside of Cleveland. The organization boasts thousands of members across the globe and more than 80 chapters worldwide, which provide opportunities for students and professionals to network and learn from each other. Additionally, it offers a plethora of educational resources including classroom and lab instruction, online interactive courses, loads of research materials, and much more.

To meet the challenges of the future, the ASM Materials Education Foundation expanded its mission to engage the next generation of students interested in engineering principles and STEM topics. ASM Materials Camp is a unique team-based, intensive problem solving science experience for students entering their junior and senior year. ASM Materials Camp has grown into an award-winning program in which thousands of students have participated.  

Through STEM Premier, ASM members and other individuals who have participated in ASM/ASM Materials Education Foundation programming can request a digital badge to display on their STEM Premier profile. ASM Membership, ASM Materials Camps, and ASM Materials Education Foundation Scholarships are just some of the programs credentialed through STEM Premier.

Are you an ASM International participant? Join STEM Premier and request your digital badge today!