STEM Premier Spotlight: Ujwala Pamidimukkala

It’s always a pleasure keeping up with our STEM Premier student users. The best part is that there are always success stories to highlight.

 Our latest spotlight is on Ujwala Pamidimukkala, a senior at Columbus North High School in Indiana. Ujwala  - one of our 2017 STEM Premier Top 100 -  was recently named as one of the winners of Indiana’s inaugural Governor's STEM Team award.

 As one of four winners from over one hundred applications, Ujwala’s award represents the “Science” in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. And deservedly so. She is highly involved with HOSA - Future Health Professionals, and she placed first in both the Medical Math and Pharmacy Tech categories at Indiana’s HOSA state competition.

 Additionally, Ujwala is an AP Scholar with Distinction, President of her school’s Spanish Club, and a member of her high school tennis team. She has already committed to Vanderbilt, where she plans to major in molecular biology and chemistry.

 We caught with Ujwala to hear a little bit more about her in her own words. Here’s what she had to say!

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I follow more golden retrievers than people on Instagram

For fun, I like to….cook all sorts of food from around the world, but I especially love to make desserts.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet…Joe Biden because we have a mutual love of ice cream and Ray Ban sunglasses.

The best teacher I’ve ever had was/is….Mr. Dale Nowlin because he's an amazing math teacher and friend

The last app I downloaded on my phone was…Netflix (I LOVE to watch Friends!)

After high school, my next step is...studying molecular biology and chemistry on the pre-med track at Vanderbilt University.

In ten years, I see myself….going through residency and other training to become a cardiovascular surgeon.

My greatest dream is...to positively touch as many lives as I can through a career in cardiovascular surgery.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...it is a great place to display all of my credentials and to connect with amazing opportunities.

 Thanks Ujwala! We wish you the best of luck as you pursue your dreams at Vanderbilt!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Dr. A. Sean Alford

When it comes to education, STEM Premier understands the importance of putting students first. And sometimes, putting students first requires educators to take calculated risks, such as implementing new curricula, standards, or technology in the classroom. The best teachers and administrators understand that progressive thinking and planning for the future is just as important in education as it is in business.

In this series of blog posts, we want to take some time to recognize 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.

Dr. A. Sean Alford is the subject of our first spotlight. The Superintendent of Aiken County Public School District in South Carolina, Dr. Alford was one of STEM Premier’s earliest proponents. He took some time away from his hectic schedule to engage in some Q&A with us.

See what an experienced and passionate educator has to say about how STEM Premier has enhanced his school district.  

 

Dr. Sean Alford
Superintendent
Aiken County Public School District
Aiken, South Carolina

What is your role with the Aiken County Public School District (APCSD)?
Superintendent responsible for organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

How did you get into education? What drew you to the profession?
I had great mentors in my lifetime, many were teachers or coaches. I wanted to do for others what had been done for me.

What is your favorite thing about education?
The overwhelming impact that an individual can have on their own lives if they apply themselves through the educational process.

Tell us a little bit more about ACPSD!
Aiken County is a progressive school district that focuses on solution-driven processes. We want graduates to possess a set of employable skills when they leave our schools.

How is STEM Premier helping your district?
STEM Premier helps to reinforce many concepts that we strive to teach and model in our schools; moreover, it facilitates student's understanding of multiple pathways to postsecondary success.

How did you implement STEM Premier? Do you have any suggestions for other schools on how to best implement STEM Premier?
Measured or strategic implementations always work best. Our process was designed to connect our schools to our post-secondary institutions before we began a deliberate effort to engage the business community.

What is your favorite part of the system?
I believe students enjoy the user-friendly platform.

What has your experience been with the STEM Premier team?
The STEM Premier team members are committed professionals.  Their passion for their work is evident.

What is the future impact that STEM Premier will have on the Aiken County Public School District?
As we strive to make stronger connections and build new bridges with business and industry, I believe that STEM Premier will allow job creators to assess student's skills and abilities in a meaningful way which should make the hiring and training processes much more fluid.

Thank you Dr. Alford for taking time away from your passion to spread the word about STEM Premier. We wish the best of luck to you and your students, teachers, and staff!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Alexander Koziol

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We always like to spotlight our STEM Premier talent - as well as our college and industry partners - and this week is a two-for-one!

Alexander Koziol is a high school senior from Wallingford, PA, and a 2017 STEM Premier Top 100 student. His impressive list of activities and accolades includes being a part of the National Honor Society, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and FIRST Robotics. He is also a member of his school’s varsity swim team and MVP of the ultimate frisbee team!

Alex recently committed to Webb Institute, a private undergraduate college located in Glen Cove, NY solely dedicated to Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. Webb is also one of our colleges who uses STEM Premier to discover their next incoming class!

Alex chose Webb over several top-flight universities, and credits STEM Premier for helping him consider a path he never even knew existed.

We took some time to interview Alex, and learn more about him and his decision.

What do you plan on studying in college, and what would be your ideal career path after college?

I'll be studying Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, for which defense, yachts, shipping, and cruise liners are the big industries. I have no preference yet, but yachts seem intriguing. I'm hoping to continue my interest in French language and culture through graduate study and then future work in Europe!

From your profile, it looks like your had your choice of top colleges like Carnegie Mellon and the US Coast Guard Academy - and have committed to Webb Institute. Tell us more about how you first became aware of Webb Institute and why you ultimately chose that school.

I was fortunate to have the choice between some amazing schools, but I chose Webb because it fit my interests and personality the most closely. I appreciate the financial aspect, but the student environment, campus, and professors really set it apart. I didn't start out obsessed with ships, but in the month since my decision, I sure have gotten there!

Do you think you would have heard about Webb Institute without STEM Premier?

I likely wouldn't have. I actually first noticed Webb because of a message from them on STEM Premier. Its reference to my activities rather than simple academic talent piqued my interest. I'm very, very glad it worked out!

Here’s a few other things Alex dished with us about!

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I'm a Clevelander at heart! I grew up there before moving to Pittsburgh and now Philadelphia. Hoping the Cavs finish these finals well . . .

For fun, I like to….Go running. My family's new German Shorthaired Pointer loves to go for runs outside, and it's motivated me to endurance train now that ultimate season is over. I usually just lift in the off-season.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet…Herbert Marcuse.
I'd like to speak with about his brand of Marxism, as I'm particularly interested in his brand of intellectual struggle for justice, rather than revolutionary. His position on the paradox of intolerance is also interesting!

The best teacher I’ve ever had was/is….I can't pick out any of my high school teachers, because they were all fantastic. If I had to say, I'd elect my 5th grade teacher at Menlo Park Academy, Mr. Dolan. As a very unique math and English teacher, he developed my deep interest in problem solving that still influences me today.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was….A Dark Room. It's an odd text-only RPG with a very cool twist that's slowly hinted towards throughout the game.

In ten years, I see myself…Hopefully working at a design or research firm in a big city! I won't mind living in an apartment; it's less to keep track of so I can focus on what really matters when I'm off work: family and friends.

My greatest dream is...I want to retire from industry someday and teach the next generation of students. It could be STEM or the humanities; I just love helping people learn.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is....The ability to create a profile for colleges to see and reach out to students with is, for me, the most important part of STEM Premier. If it weren't for this, I wouldn't be where I am now.


Thank you Alex for taking some time with us. We wish you the best of luck as you pursue your future at Webb Institute!

How STEM Premier Works with Secondary Schools

STEM Premier serves as the connection between students, educational institutions, and employers - but you may have a question: How does STEM Premier bring students into the fold?

This is our favorite part of STEM Premier, because it means meeting students where they are - at their schools. We partner with secondary schools, school districts, and colleges across the country to bring their students onto the platform. 

Implementing STEM Premier not only allows students to begin building their digital portfolio, but also enables schools to follow their own students, view their profiles, get real-time data, and more. A school account on STEM Premier provides a virtual window into a school's student population - as well as a direct connection with current students and alumni.

Other ways a school account can help:

  • Get real-time data from their students based on their profile information
  • Add student opportunities such as scholarships and events
  • Create digital badges
  • View their student's profiles
  • Direct message/group message students
  • Follow alumni/communicate with alumni after they graduate

We also provide schools with on-site implementation and training sessions for staff and students. It goes without saying that this is a fun experience. Check out these pics of our team in action!

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Naturally, our work brings us face-to-face with many passionate and influential teachers, counselors, and administrators. It’s one of the best parts of our job.

Since partnering with schools and districts across the country, we've been honored to collaborate with several insightful and forward-thinking educators, and we will be highlighting these individuals in a series of future blog posts. All of them have implemented the STEM Premier platform in their schools and districts, and they have been creative catalysts for us as they’ve formulated innovative ways to bring our platform to their students. To be sure, they’ve definitely taught us more than we’ve taught them!

They will explain in their own words why implementing STEM Premier was a positive game-changer for their schools.

STEM Premier Powers Boeing's Inaugural STEM Signing Day

Signing Day. No off-season affair is more important for collegiate athletic programs and their fans than the day when their future stars sign their commitments.

The pens are ready. Ball caps sit patiently, ready to be donned by bright-eyed prospects with grand dreams.

For South Carolina’s star students, their own day has finally come.

On May 9, the inaugural Boeing STEM Signing Day took place on the South Carolina State House grounds in Columbia. Just like signing days for athletes, over fifty high school seniors from across the state inked their letters of intent to pursue a career in STEM. Inside the Edgar Brown Building, elected officials as well as business and community leaders looked on like proud coaches and parents, envisioning incredible futures for these students. All of these students will be attending a 2-year or 4-year college to continue their STEM education.

For us at STEM Premier, it was a vision made reality. As part of an amazing collaborative partnership, Boeing utilized the STEM Premier platform to identify and personally invite star students to participate. From over 400 applications - all managed within STEM Premier - seventy were chosen to attend and make their mark on the future of STEM.

“Boeing is honored to help lift up and recognize the achievements and next steps of some of our state’s brightest minds – students who will eventually lead the way as we advance innovation and technology in the 21st century,” said Joan Robinson-Berry, Boeing South Carolina vice president and general manager.

The inaugural Boeing STEM Signing Day marks the beginning of a tradition which we hope students, industry leaders, and officials look forward to each year. We wish the best of luck to each of the participants, and are proud to call them STEM Premier students.

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STEM Premier Spotlight: Hezekiah Branch

One of the best things about having so many amazing student users on our STEM Premier platform is that there is never a shortage of great stories to tell!

Our most recent spotlight is on Hezekiah Branch, a senior at Ridge View High School in Columbia, South Carolina. Hezekiah was recently named a semi-finalist for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program; one of the most competitive scholarship programs in the country.

Less than 200 U.S. Presidential Scholars across the nation are chosen each year, representing excellence in education and the promise of greatness in America’s youth. Chosen scholars will be invited to Washington, DC in June to receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion at the White House.

Hezekiah is extremely passionate about biomedical science and has been involved with a plethora of related organizations including HOSA and Project Lead The Way. He is also one of our fantastic STEM Premier Student Ambassadors, helping us spread the story of STEM Premier!

We caught up with him recently for a little Q&A. Here’s a little bit about Hezekiah in his own words.

1.  Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I am originally from Boston, MA and my family is Trinidadian.

2. For fun, I like to...learn programming languages like Swift and Java as well as play sports.

3.  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...John Steinbeck. Of Mice and Men is one of my favorite pieces of literature of all time.

4. The best teacher I've ever had was...my mother who taught me how to read when I was around three or four years old.

5. The last app I downloaded on my phone was...FaceApp.

6. After high school, my next step is to...study Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science at Tufts University.

7. In ten years, I see myself...having graduated from college and working as a medical researcher.

8. My greatest dream is to...open up an international non-profit organization for students to complete research in biomedical sciences.

9. What I like about STEM Premier most is...the facility of organizing my information as well as the design of the website. I also appreciate how other people can view my profile and gain insight into my personality and accomplishments.

Thanks Hezekiah! We wish you the best of luck as the final selections are made this month for the Presidential Scholars Program!

Looking Closer: Student Interest in Protective Services

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 protective services industry.

Protective services encompass those occupations which ensure the safety and well-being of the community through a variety of preventative, proactive, and reactive actions. The occupations which most readily come to mind in this industry are police officers and firefighters. However, those highly-visible professions are just a small sample of the industry as a whole.

As far as industry growth is concerned, protective services does not seem primed for a large surge. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the industry to grow only four percent by 2024, adding about 154,000 new jobs.

Regardless, occupations in this sector represent some of the most vital - and sometimes hazardous - jobs in the country.

To get a better idea of some of the business and finance occupations which STEM Premier students are interested, here is a small sample:

  • Correctional Officers
  • Fire Inspectors
  • Federal Agents
  • Security and Surveillance Personnel
  • Forensic Scientists

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

Announcing the 2017 STEM Premier Top 100

It is with much pride and excitement that we announce STEM Premier’s 3rd annual Top 100 rankings: The 2017 STEM Premier Top 100!

This year, over 225,000 STEM Premier student users attending over 16,000 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 32 different states, with the most highly represented states being Texas (13 students), California (9), and Washington (8). The diversity of academic and extracurricular success of this group is astounding. 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) members.

And that’s just getting started.

Other Top 100 students are involved in specialized and highly technical organizations such as FIRST Robotics, VEX Robotics, Google Code-in, JROTC, HOSA - Future Health Professionals, 4-H, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), Mu Alpha Theta, and SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers).

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 nearly quarter-million 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 2017 STEM Premier Top 100

 

Engineering Success: Society of Manufacturing Engineers and STEM Premier

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When one of your partner organizations is nearly one hundred years old, you know you’re working with the best in the business. In our case, that partner would be SME.

SME (Society of Manufacturing Engineers) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote advanced manufacturing technology and developing a skilled workforce. Providing a forum for sharing resources with members and businesses, SME seeks to arm students, workers, and manufacturers with the knowledge and information necessary to grow and succeed in a rapidly-changing economy.

SME is one of the United States’ most established professionals organizations. It was originally founded in 1932 as the American Society of Tool Engineers (it’s name would later change to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1969). One it’s early landmark achievements was the publication of “The Tool Engineers Handbook” in 1948; 65,000 copies we’re sold within seven years of it’s original publication. Since then, SME has produced its own magazine, established an educational foundation, and expanded its reach to Canada.

SME has also opened its doors to students and younger individuals.

For any student interested in a career in manufacturing or technically-related STEM field, joining SME is a no-brainer. A self-described “one-stop shop” for students, SME membership offers students access to technical information on state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and provides unparalleled networking opportunities

Our special partnership with SME provides a great opportunity for SME and potential SME student members. High school can college students can join STEM Premier, build a digital portfolio showcasing themselves to talent-seekers, and become a student SME member through the STEM Premier platform. 

Once students become an SME member, they are awarded the SME Member Digital Badge which displays on the student's STEM Premier profile - recognizing them as a member of SME. Talent-seekers like SME-trusted colleges and companies can then identify students who are involved in the organization. Talk about a way to separate yourself from the competition! 

As a renewed emphasis on manufacturing takes hold in the U.S., this partnership is pivotal for ensuring that students, schools, and organizations have ways to easily connect with each other.

Perhaps you could call it our own feat of engineering.

STEM Premier Spotlight: North Carolina

Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 2,500+
  • Next Steps: 4-Year College (85%), Career/Technical College (4%), Enter the Workforce (1%), Enter the Military (1%), Other (9%) 
  • Top College Interests: UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, East Carolina University, Duke University, UNC-Charlotte
  • Top Intended Majors: Biology, Nursing,Computer Science

The Tar Heel State is the next stop in our series of state spotlights! Having recently surpassed 2,500 student members on the STEM Premier platform, North Carolina isn’t just about college basketball anymore!

Among North Carolina’s student users are 275 Project Lead the Way students, 180 National Honor Society members, and 175 members of HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

North Carolina’s student users come from far and wide across the state, from Kitty Hawk (home of the Wright Brother’s own little STEM project…) all the way west to Murphy near the Tennessee border. And while the state’s larger cities, such as Charlotte and Raleigh, boast high concentrations of users, it’s important to note that rural areas have just as much of a footprint in our student database.

The top occupational interests of North Carolina’s students include surgery, nursing, pediatrics, computer science, and mechanical engineering.

According to ACT’s Condition of STEM Report, North Carolina’s student interest in the STEM fields has remained steady over the past few years at 50%, but continues to outpace the national average of 48%. The steadiness of student interest can be attributed to a decline of student interest in the medical and science fields, but also a substantial increase in the engineering, mathematics, and computing fields.

Read ACT’s entire Condition of STEM Report for North Carolina

Higher Thinking: How Philosophy Can Improve Professional Skills

“I think, therefore I am.”

This well-known philosophical proverb first appeared in Rene Descartes’ Discourse on the Method in 1637.

However, based on a recent study by the UK’s Education Endowment Foundation, perhaps it could also be accurate to say: “I think, therefore I am a better student and professional.”

There is now data to back up the notion that student engagement in the study of philosophy improves their performance in other vital subjects and bolsters critical professional skills. 

Specifically, the study found that nine and ten-year-olds who participated in a weekly philosophy class over the course of the year displayed significant gains in their math and literacy proficiency compared to their peers who did not partake in the philosophy class. This is despite the fact that the philosophical courses were not primarily designed to improve performance in these subjects, but rather focused on discussions centered around concepts such as justice and knowledge, and featured time for silent reflection.

This comes as no surprise to philosophy advocates, who have long championed its ability to promote “lateral thinking” - the ability to solve problems via indirect and creative approaches - and its apparently positive effects on standardized test scores, such as the GRE and LSAT.

However, perhaps even more important is that teachers also reported student progress in other areas, such as public speaking, listening skills, and self-esteem; skills typically referred to as "soft skills." 

As businesses and organizations compete over a finite pool of STEM-proficient young professionals, there is yet another shortage in the modern workplace which has them concerned; employees with well-developed soft skills. The ability for workers to listen, think critically, and to digest and reformulate ideas is vital for any organization to reach their peak potential. This holds true across the board for any type of employee, whether they be a mechanical engineer or a human resources professional. 

It is important for students and young adults to recognize this gap, so that they can improve and showcase their own abilities. 

STEM Premier offers student users tools to help develop their critical thinking and cognitive skills, such as Lumosity and Khan Academy. These tools are accessible through the STEM Premier Dashboard. 

Students can also highlight their soft skills, for example, by uploading videos to their profile which show off their public speaking skills - an ability very much coveted by all types of employers. 

So as students, businesses, and educators look forward into the future and the advancement of the STEM disciplines, perhaps they should also be looking back into the past as well. Perhaps ancient subjects like philoshpy are just as important for well-rounded professionals. 

Learning from the Pros: Getting Social

When it comes to recruiting, collegiate coaches are constantly on the lookout for anything that can help them gain an edge over rivals and competitors.

With the NCAA keeping a close eye on phone calls, text messaging, and in-person visits, it should come as no surprise that programs across the country have taken to the internet to connect with recruits where they are: social media.

What is interesting about the NCAA’s regulation of social media communication is that, instead of tightening down on it - such as it’s done with texting - it has actually given coaches more freedom on the web. Prior to August 2016, coaches were allowed to private message recruits, but could not “publicize” their recruitment by “liking” or sharing a recruit’s posts. They are now allowed to do so.

Here’s the important part: The NCAA officially explained this rule change as being due to the impossible nature of constantly monitoring thousands of social media profiles. However, many believe it was mostly due in part to the fact that social media is by far the preferred medium of communication of high school athletes nowadays.

What makes STEM Premier a powerful tool is that combines the power of a social media platform and professional networking programs into one package. Organizational users can directly connect with prospective students and employees, providing the genuine sense that their talents are being recognized and pursued. This is a far cry from simply making students aware of an organization's opportunities through traditional methods such as job postings and billboards. 

Why does this matter? Because coaches know that if you want to land a recruit, you have to make them feel comfortable with your school. If one program is sending a recruit letters in the mail, while another is actively communicating with them online - where they post, tweet, like, share, and hashtag with their friends - guess which one has the advantage?

Your organization’s recruiting strategy should be no different. Times are changing, and the schools and businesses which simply rely on the “old-school” methods of college and jobs fairs and snail mail to attract talent are going to fall behind.

With STEM Premier,  not only can schools and businesses showcase their programs and opportunities for free via their STEM Premier profile, they can also directly link their profile from more "social" platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+. 

With nearly a quarter-million students on STEM Premier, organizations can take a page out of Nick Saban’s playbook and build relationships with these students where they are.

Looking Closer: Student Interest in Business and Finance

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 business and finance industry.

While the industry is not expected to grow quite as dramatically as other sectors - healthcare for instance - over the next decade, increased regulation will drive the demand for more accountants, auditors, and other types of financial analysts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that business and financial occupations will increase by about eight percent by 2024, adding more than 630,000 new jobs.

When it comes to talent for business, many of the nation’s promising young minds are on the STEM Premier platform. Thanks to our incredible partnership with FBLA-PBL (Future Business Leaders of America), student members are offered the FBLA Membership Digital Badge to proudly display on their profiles. FBLA also promotes STEM Premier to its student members as a way to professionally connect with schools and businesses who are looking for young people just like them.

To get a better idea of some of the business and finance occupations which STEM Premier students are interested, here is a small sample:

  • Budget Analysts
  • Cost Estimators
  • Loan Officers
  • Accountants
  • Financial Advisors

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

STEM Premier Spotlight: Alabama

Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 3,400+
  • Top College Interests: Auburn University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of South Alabama, University of Alabama
  • Top Intended Majors: Pre-Medicine, Nursing, Computer Science

The talent population on STEM Premier continues to grow, which means that our student base continues to increase in diversity; especially geographic diversity. Over 200,000 high school and college-level students across the country are showcasing themselves on the platform.

Alabama is the focus of our next state spotlight. Among the Yellowhammer State’s 3400+ STEM Premier users are 260 National Honor Society members, 175 members of HOSA - Future Health Professionals, and 93 FBLA members.

While STEM Premier students can be found virtually anywhere in the state, the largest concentration of students can be found in the state’s major population centers of Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, and Huntsville - home of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The top occupational interests of Tennessee’s students include surgery, nursing, mechanical engineering, pediatrics, physical therapy, and aerospace engineering.

According to ACT’s Condition of STEM Report, Alabama’s student interest in the STEM fields (52%) continues to outpace the national average (48%). This trend is powered by growing interest in the computer science, mathematics, and engineering fields. This sets Alabama apart from other states whose student interest lies primarily in the medical and health fields.

Read ACT’s entire Condition of STEM Report for Alabama.

STEM Premier iShine Scholarship Spotlight: Julia Holt

Several times each year, we award the STEM Premier iShine Scholarship to one student who is using their profile to best showcase themselves and shine! We also pose a question for each student applicant to answer to the best of their ability.

This time, we asked applicants to submit a short video telling us why they deserve to win the iShine Scholarship and how the scholarship assistance will help them pursue their dreams.

As always, we had many excellent submissions, and we are proud STEM Premier’s newest iShine Scholar: Julia Holt from Orlando, Florida!

Julia is a highly-involved senior at Timber Creek High School passionate about the field of astronomy. She has been accepted by the University of Central Florida, where she intends to enroll next fall. Check out her video entry below:

We caught up with Julia so we could get to know her a little better. Here’s what she had to say:

Something you wouldn't know about me is... that I'm VERY good at Just Dance (the Wii and Xbox game). My high scores have yet to be broken, and I have remained undefeated for almost 4 years.

For fun, I like to…. Relax. I'm a big fan of putting fun puzzles together. I enjoy watching movies, some of my favorites include Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Jurassic Park. And I really, really love to hike because I am so passionate about nature and the environment. These activities relieve a lot of my stress.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet… Eleanor Roosevelt. My dad told me all the time when I was growing up "no one can make you feel inferior without your own consent" which is a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. I would want to meet her and thank her for those words of wisdom, they have helped me on numerous occasions. I should probably also thank my dad!

The best teachers I’ve ever had were…. Mrs. Frandsen and Ms. Hubble. These two teachers opened my eyes to my personal potential. It is because of them that I have the courage to dream my dreams so big. I will forever be thankful for them and the ways in which they've helped me, whether they knew it or not.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was…. Word Cookies. It's sounds random, but it's actually very fun, and challenging. You have to make words out of letter-shaped cookies. I like to tell myself it's an educational app. :)

After high school, my next step is... to go to the University of Central Florida! I have been accepted and I plan to pursue a degree in Physics!

In ten years, I see myself…. earning my PhD in Physics and becoming an official Astronomer somewhere in Colorado (because I love the mountains).

My greatest dream is... to be alive to see plants on Mars.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is... the way it "rates" your test scores. It's hard to find an exact answer to "what is a good score on the ACT/SAT?". The dashboard scales/color coats the scores (red/yellow/green), and it is actually very helpful in determining whether or not retaking the ACT or SAT is the best option, at least for me. :)

As the winner of the STEM Premier iShine Scholarship, Julia will receive $1000 as well as the STEM Premier iShine Scholarship Digital Badge. Congratulations Julia!

A Professional HUD: STEM Premier's Student Dashboard

If you’re an aircraft pilot, you are familiar with an HUD.

For everyone else, the acronym may be unfamiliar, but the concept shouldn’t be. An HUD, or Heads-Up Display, is an apparatus which presents important data to the user of a certain technology - a fighter jet, for example - without requiring them to take their eyes off of what’s in front of them.

When you’re flying at 800 miles per hour, you can imagine why that would be useful!

STEM Premier's Student Dashboard works in the same way.

Both at the secondary and collegiate level, students have a lot going on in their lives. They have tests to study for, homework to do, and projects to complete. And that just describes their academic lives! They also want to make time for friends, family, sports, hobbies, and other activities.

Simply put, students don’t have a lot of time to think about their academic and professional futures. Perhaps that’s why big state schools with strong brand-awareness never fail to attract their fair share of applicants. It could also explain why certain high-prestige professions, such as law and healthcare, dominate student interest surveys (on the 2015 CIRP Freshman Survey, an astounding 27.4% of incoming college freshman identified themselves as either pre-law or pre-med).

STEM Premier’s Student Dashboard is tailor-designed for each student on the STEM Premier platform. Using data from the user’s personal profile, the dashboard compiles and aggregates vital information for each student as they navigate their hectic lives at 800 mph - just like an HUD system!

When a student logs onto STEM Premier, their Dashboard is the first thing they see. Here’s what they’ll find:

They’ll find how their standardized test scores - such as their ACT score -  stack up against other users, which may prompt them to try for a higher score and broaden their opportunities.

They’ll find the “Explore Organizations” module, which will connect them with schools and businesses who match up well with their educational and career interests.

They’ll find financial aid opportunities powered by Redkite, which matches students to certain scholarship opportunities based on their STEM Premier profile information.  

In other words, STEM Premier students will have information placed at their fingertips which used to have taken hours of research to compile. That’s the whole point of an HUD. At STEM Premier, we don’t want students to have to take their eyes off the windshield to figure out where they’re going.

We want to help them know exactly where they’re headed. While still going full-throttle.

 

Getting Down to Business: National FBLA-PBL Week

How’s this for timing?

Future Business Leaders of America is celebrating their National FBLA Week this week (February 5-11). The week is designed to promote awareness of the organization and its programs amongst communities across the country.  

It’s also a perfect opportunity to announce STEM Premier’s partnership with this incredible organization. We visited FBLA’s 2016 National Leadership Conference this past July, and were amazed by the amazing students and staff we met there.

That makes us all the more proud to officially offer FBLA members the STEM Premier FBLA Membership Digital Badge! Students affiliated with FBLA can join STEM Premier and request their badge to include on their STEM Premier profile.

While the badge is cool, of course, even cooler is how STEM Premier will enhance these students’ educational and professional endeavors by allowing them to showcase their skills, talents, and accomplishments on their profile. From there, they can share their profile, link up with mentors, and take their networking to the next level!

Coinciding with National Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month, FBLA Week encourages members to participate in a broad range of awareness activities, including sharing their FBLA stories in-person and via social media and getting involved with community service.

Students are even inspired to get involved with their local political leadership by requesting them to sign a formal proclamation officially recognizing National FBLA-PBL Week in their towns, cities, and communities.

We wish the best for all members of FBLA, and we hope they take advantage of everything both FBLA and STEM Premier have to offer.

Learning From The Pros: Talent Evaluation Services

It’s no secret that college football has become big business. The stakes have grown higher. The stages and television audiences have grown larger. As a result, programs have been devoting larger amounts of resources into their operations in a relentless pursuit of a coveted national title.

As is true for any organization, the best way for a team to get on top - and stay on top - is to attract the best talent.

And to attract the best talent, you have to recruit the best talent. That’s where college coaches need some help. Some estimates have upwards of one million high school football players in the country. Given the sheer number of athletes, it is an impossible task to evaluate each one, and it is simply not practical to hire enough staff to keep tabs on them all.

That’s where talent evaluation and recruiting services come in. Since schools don’t have enough time and resources to scout an entire nation worth of prospects, they rely on services and experts to point the in the right direction.

Virtually unheard of in 1970’s and 80’s, these services have become so popular and relied upon as to become an industry in themselves. Rivals and Scout are now household terms. Tom Lemming’s Prep Football Report - an evaluation of the top 1200 prep football prospects each year - has come to be widely regarded as the “Bible of college football recruiting.”

The value of these services for college football programs lay in the countless hours of time saved and prospects reached. Before, college football coaches were forced to restrict their talent searches to the immediate surrounding area. Now, they can learn about prospect across the entire country and decide for themselves which ones are worth pursuing before they send coaches to evaluate them further.

This is exactly the same value proposition STEM Premier makes for schools, businesses, and organizations.

Using the same “star rating” system made popular by recruiting services like Rivals, STEM Premier comprehensively evaluates the credentials and accomplishments of high school students on our platform to provide educational institutions and other organizations with a game to develop their recruiting and talent pipeline strategy.

In fact, we will soon be releasing the 2017 edition of the annual STEM Premier Top 100 - the one hundred highest rated high school students in the country. Based on over thirty metrics in each student's profile, the Top 100 is a can't miss "who's who" of America's young talent. 

Sometimes teams aren't always simply looking for the best overall players. Sometimes they have specific position needs - at quarterback, for instance. Schools and organizations are the same way. STEM Premier is ready to help you address these needs as well. Organizations can use the advanced search features to find talent based on location, major, career interests, and much more. They can then follow these students in order to stay in touch and build a relationship - all from the comfort of their corporate office!

The best college football programs trust and rely on these services. Why shouldn’t your organization?

After all, there are millions of potential students and employees out there. You could probably use some help finding the best.

 

STEM Premier Student Spotlight: Akporesiri Omene

STEM Premier is proud to partner with professional and educational national organizations across the country. These partnerships enhance the effectiveness of our engagement with students in a mutually beneficial way. As a result, students are better able to leverage experience gained from their organization involvement and showcase themselves more effectively to colleges and industries. 

This week, we took the time to interview Akporesiri Omene from Chicago, Illinois. Akporesiri is a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology majoring in civil engineering. While in high school, he was a highly-involved member of ACE Mentor Program of America - a proud partner of ours! ACE Mentor Program fosters and mentors students who wish to pursue careers in architecture, construction, and engineering. With STEM Premier, Akporesiri can stay connected with ACE Mentor Program; even after his participation in high school. 

We wanted to learn more from Akporesiri about his involvement with ACE and STEM Premier, so we checked in to ask him a few questions. Read what he had to say below.

Why did you join ACE?

I joined ACE because I was unsure if I wanted to go into engineering or another field. I wanted to make sure that I wanted to get into the career path that was best for me. Also, I was attracted to the interactivity of the program and the fact that it has a hands-on approach to learning architecture and engineering.

What do like most about being part of ACE?

The companies that we worked with proved to be a huge networking resource. It’s not everyday that you get to work alongside professionals in your desired career path.

This mentorship had a twofold impact. The first was that we had the opportunity to gain insider knowledge about the industry so that we could get a feel of what we wanted to do. The second was that it provided an opportunity to look to our mentors for job opportunities and further mentoring.

As a bonus, I was able to get into the design-build program that ACE offers every year. I’m glad that I was a part of it, because my year happened to produce the largest and most successful design-build project in the organization’s history.

How has STEM Premier enhanced your involvement with ACE?

STEM Premier has allowed me to continue being a part of ACE. Although I am not an active member anymore, it is still nice to be a part of a community of like-minded, ambitious, and goal-oriented students and mentors. STEM Premier has made it easier for me to keep in contact with my previous mentors and contribute to the ACE Mentor community.


We were excited to hear how important of a role ACE and STEM Premier have played in Akporesiri’s professional endeavors. However, we also wanted Akporesiri to be able to show off his personality a bit, so here’s more about him in his own words!

Something you wouldn't know about me is…that I enjoy listening to music and walking in the drenching rain, especially after a long, stressful day. It’s very tranquil and surreal.

For fun, I like to….I listen to J-Pop and J-Rock (Japanese Pop and Rock music).

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meetformer President Barack Obama and his family. It would be clutch to hang and chill with a Chicago native and learn about what it’s like to be President, and about life in general.

The best teacher I’ve ever had was/is….Mr. Craig. He was my high school math teacher. I appreciated how he took complicated math concepts and broke it down so that I could understand. He was also just a cool and chill guy in general.
 

The last app I downloaded on my phone was….Instagram. I’m getting more into it, to be honest.

After high school, my next step isto gain connections, skills, and experience both inside and outside of my university curriculum in order to become one of the best engineers out there.

In ten years, I see myself….travelling the world and performing engineering work around the globe wherever the need is the greatest.

My greatest dream isto revolutionize the infrastructure of Chicago, the United States, and eventually the world.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most iswell, what’s there NOT to love?

Thanks for catching up with us Akporesiri! We wish you the best as you pursue your studies and your dreams of revolutionizing the world. Keep up the great work!

Our Latest Dashboard Scholarship Winner Announced

We are proud to award multiple STEM Premier scholarships each year. We understand the critical importance of financial aid, and seek to help our students as they pursue their academic and professional dreams. 

The STEM Premier Dashboard Scholarship - awarded quarterly - asks students to provide their best answer to a certain question. The student with the most impressive, unique, or intriguing answer is selected as the winner. 

This time around, we asked applicants to submit their best answer to the following question: What kind of technology do you think will make the biggest impact in the next decade and why?

We had many fantastic applicants, and we are pleased to announce the winner...drumroll please…

Vy Le from Wichita, Kansas!

Vy is a sophomore at Northeast Magnet High School in Wichita interested in the field of medicine. Her college interests include Stanford, Harvard, the University of California-San Francisco, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the University of Kansas.    

We caught up with Vy for a little Q & A so we could get to know her a little better. Here’s what she had to say:                                                                    

1. Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I love to listen to music (preferably classical/edm/kpop), but I don't have any specific artist/band as a favorite!

2. For fun, I like to...watch documentaries, cooking, or house design videos! I enjoy learning about history, watching people make food, or seeing someone design a house. Also, I love to learn new songs on the violin, whether it be modern music or classical, by just listening to the song!

3. If I could meet anyone in the world, I'd want to meet...Shinya Yamanaka! He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2012 for discovering that any mature cell has the genetic information to become a stem cell. This means a skin cell could be reprogrammed into a stem cell, which could potentially become any cell in the organism. This is super important (and cool) because any damaged organ or limb can be regrown with the same genetic information as the rest of the body!

4. The best teacher I've ever had was...I don't think I could just say one teacher. All of my teachers have been amazing and have done their job wonderfully! I've come to realize that teachers work super hard to educate students, and I appreciate all of my teachers' effort and hard work to succeed in doing so!

5. The last app I downloaded on my phone was..."Pocket Anatomy"! My sister had told me about it and I was quite interested because I figured it would be very helpful for me since I take a "human body systems" class! I'm still exploring the app, but I love how it lets you choose how much is on the body, like which layer you want to see (muscles, nerves, bone, etc).

6. After high school, my next step is...to go to a university! I don't know exactly what I intend to be at this time, but I know I want to help people medically, and so I will most likely major in something like biology!

7. In ten years, I see myself...graduating medical school with a M.D, starting my training to get a Ph.D!

8. My greatest dream is...for medical assistance to be available to everyone who needs it. I believe everyone should be able to get medical help if they need it. Money seems to be the biggest issue, but with the help of many charities and volunteers, we can all move a step further into making this dream a reality!

9. The thing I like the most about STEM Premier is...that it helps students organize everything in one account! Students can easily put down all the information they want colleges to know, such as experiences, achievements, and test scores. They can also share their profile with anyone, so it is way more efficient way than having to try and retype every achievement each time they might need to showcase their work! I guess you could say its organization skills are on point! :)

As part of her scholarship, Vy will also be awarded the exclusive STEM Premier Dashboard Scholarship Digital Badge. 

Congratulations Vy! We have no doubt that you will make a big difference in medicine one day. Maybe even win your own Nobel Peace Prize!