STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Richard Coca

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!

Our previous spotlight was Neha Chava from Northville, Michigan. Next up in the limelight is Richard Coca from California!

Richard currently attends Reseda Senior High in San Fernando Valley while also dual-enrolled at Los Angeles Mission College. The AP Scholar is highly involved with HOSA where his team was named as one of the state’s Top 10 for biomedical debate. But certainly his most “thrilling” accomplishment was winning first place in the Magic Mountain Roller Coaster Proposal Competition in which competitors design a roller coaster from scratch!

Read more about Richard below in his own words.

Richard Coca

San Fernando Valley, CA

Reseda Senior High School

Something you wouldn't know about me is...Something you wouldn't know about me is that I'm very Twitter savy. Follow me on Twitter @richcocacola

For fun, I like to...get out of the house, especially to travel and visit new places.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne. He seems like a down-to-earth guy and his previous research interests me.

The best teacher I’ve ever had was...Dr. Wendy Wooten. She was the one who gave me so opportunities in science and allowed me to get my foot in the door to research.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...Attendify. I had to download it for CAL HOSA's State Leadership Conference. HOSA is a great club for future health professionals because of the networking opportunities, workshops, and events.

After high school, my next step is…to go to Stanford University. I'm nervous but even more excited. #FearTheTree #GoCardinals

In ten years, I see myself...doing some type of scientific research. As to what kind, I'm not sure but I do know that I want it to have real world applications.

My greatest dream is…being part of the generation that solves cancer, or even Alzheimer's, or any other disease. The future is limitless and I am really excited that I'll get to be a part of a change that hopefully benefits the world.

My favorite thing about STEM Premier is...its easy to use platform and how simple it is to highlight all of your accomplishments.

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

STEM Premier Spotlight: Randelle Thompson

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Less than a year ago, we featured STEM Premier organizational user Tidelands Health. Based out of Georgetown, South Carolina, Tidelands decided to partner with us in order to place themselves on students’ radars. “[STEM Premier] will help us deepen our relationship within the region by introducing Tidelands Health to members of the community at a young age,” said Busy Kimball, Manager of Talent Acquisition, at the time.

That’s just what they’re doing. By utilizing our digital ecosystem to provide scholarship opportunities for students interested in healthcare, they’ve found exactly the kind of students they’ve been looking for; students like Randelle Thompson!

Randelle is one of Tideland’s recent scholarship recipients. A native of Myrtle Beach, Randelle wasn’t all that familiar with the Tidelands healthcare system, which is headquartered 35 miles away in Georgetown. It was during her senior year of high school that she really began to take notice and consider a future career with the organization. The scholarship opportunities Tidelands made available on STEM Premier solidified her interest. “I would check the website periodically to see if any scholarship opportunities were available,’ she explains. “That’s when I applied for the scholarship with Tidelands Health.”

The aspiring nurse graduated last May from Myrtle Beach High School and is currently attending Horry Georgetown Technical College. She will soon be working for Tidelands Health. But first, she wants to take advantage of the opportunities college has to offer her.

“My plan for next year is to perfect my techniques in the nursing program I’m enrolled in,” she says, “I also plan to join the honors society and other clubs as well.”

Read more about Randelle below in her own words!

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I have an accent!

For fun, I like to….read or listen to music.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet…the head nurse of a hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida because that’s where I’d love to live and work someday.

The best teacher I’ve ever had was/is….my probability and statistics teacher during my senior year of high school. She was was always supportive of me and my aspirations.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was…the McGraw-Hill Connect app.

In ten years, I see myself….managing a department of whichever hospital I happen to find myself for.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...their ability to see potential in students.

Congratulations Randelle on your scholarship! We know you’ll be an awesome nurse (and hospital manager) one day!

Breaking Down Barriers: First-Generation Students Make STEM Premier Work for Them

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Historically speaking, the deck has been stacked against young students whose parents do not possess a college degree; students otherwise known as first-generation (or “first-gen”) college students. For example, a 2013 study found that only 17 percent of first-gen students earned a college degree within ten years of their high school sophomore year; a much lower rate than their peers who have parents with a college education.

But at the end of the day, first-generation students who are deemed “college-ready” persist just as successfully at the post-secondary level as continuing generation students. Thousands of STEM Premier students identify as first-generation. These students in particular are out to prove themselves, and they’re using our digital ecosystem to do it. In fact, we’ve identified them as one our “highly motivated” student populations. Simply put, they’re awesome.

Here’s how we know:

  • More than three out of four first-generation students on STEM Premier have a fully completed profile; a rate that out-strips continuing generation students by about nine percent.

  • They are reporting higher rates of AP test engagement and digital badge ownership.

  • The rate at which they apply for scholarships and other opportunities via STEM Premier closely matches their continuing-generation peers.

What are they passionate about?

  • 84% of them have their sights set on attending a four-year college. Talk about closing the gap!

  • 10% plan to pursue CTE (Career Technical Education). That’s essential education for some of America’s hardest-to-fill jobs.

  • 6% plan to serve our country in the military, where they will learn critical technical and leadership skills.

  • The most popular career interests for first-generation students include counselors, paralegals, librarians, and equipment technicians.

As we’ve discovered, the passion among these students has been blazing for years. They’ve simply needed an outlet to pursue that passion. We truly cannot express how honored we are to be that gateway to opportunity. But we’re not surprised. After all, STEM Premier is where all students get their opportunity to shine.

Three Reasons We're Excited About Our New Partnership With K12, Inc.

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In August, we officially announced a $9 million strategic investment from K12 Inc., a nation-wide leader in online curriculum and school programs for students in pre-K through high school. This investment signals an incredible expansion of our mission to connect talented students everywhere with the colleges, businesses, and organizations which are seeking them.

Needless to say, we’re excited about this opportunity. But we shouldn’t be the only ones. Any organization - academic or professional - which relies on recruiting to keep their talent pipeline flowing should share our enthusiasm. Here’s why.

We share a mission

Like us, K12 believes that every person - and student - is unique, and seeks to provide online educational solutions tailor-made for each student’s needs and goals. K12 offers comprehensive public and private school experiences as well as individualized and supplemental course options. Its award-winning curriculum is comprised of core subjects, including foreign languages, as well as AP, honors, STEM, and dual-credit offerings.

“Attracting the investment of a national leader in educational technology,” says our CEO Casey Welch, “will provide us the opportunity to accelerate both of our companies’ missions.”

We share a vision of the future of workforce development

As a result of this partnership, the STEM Premier platform will be incorporated into K12’s nationwide Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in order to more successfully match its participants with in-demand jobs across the country.

Known as Destinations Career Academies, these K12-managed programs allow their students to pursue practical career-readiness coursework alongside their core classes which will prepare them for professional success across a variety of industries such as health sciences, information technology, agriculture, architecture, and construction. Extracurricular activities like work-based experiences and competitions allow students to further enhance their professional and academic development. As a result, thousands of students are earning their diplomas already well-prepared for their next step, whether it be a job, the military, or further education.

“Our strategic investment in STEM Premier will develop a robust talent pipeline of skilled workers empowered to thrive in the 21st century business environment,” says K12 Chairman & CEO Nate Davis.

We share an ever-growing online environment of talent

What this means for organizational users of STEM Premier  is that they will immediately gain access to even greater numbers of diverse students across the nation. This will be especially beneficial for industries which face severe skills gaps.

“Incorporating STEM Premier into our Destinations portfolio,” says Davis, “will prove to be a powerful force in matching students with hard-to-fill job opportunities in fields like healthcare, IT, construction and manufacturing.”

Those familiar with the “network effect” which makes social media platforms like Facebook so dynamic will understand the impact this will have on STEM Premier’s online environment. As more users join, the more powerful of a tool it becomes for everyone involved.

This investment will allow our user base to grow exponentially, providing organizations with the ability to connect, engage, and recruit individuals who would otherwise have gone unnoticed. For our student users, their opportunities will be vastly expanded as we continue to lower the barriers which once forced them into traditional - and outdated - avenues of educational and professional growth. It doesn’t matter if they’re from South Carolina, South Dakota or South Chicago. Everyone will have their chance to shine on STEM Premier.

We’re pumped about this. We hope you are too.  

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Neha Chava

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!

Our previous spotlight was on Meigan Wu from Bakersfield, California. Next up is Neha Chava from Northville, Michigan!

An extremely involved member of HOSA, Neha has participated in several of the organization’s leadership conferences. She is an extremely talented tennis player who has laid claim to multiple regional and state championships. Her passion for tennis led her to establish and coordinate a summer youth tennis camp; proceeds from the camp went to charity. She has also volunteered for the American Red Cross and her local food bank. She recently enrolled at the University of Michigan where she will being pursuing her goal of becoming a cardiologist.

Read more about Neha below in her own words.

Neha Chava

Northville, MI

University of Michigan

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...I have a twin brother!

For fun, I like to...bake! I love to bake anything and everything and even started a baking club at school.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor. I would love to meet her because of the perseverance she exhibited when faced with the adversity in her life.

The best teacher I’ve ever had was...my high school English teacher because he fostered great class discussions and taught many valuable analytical skills!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...”I Love Hue” - a color game! It’s challenging but fun!

In ten years, I see myself...being a cardiologist and treating patients!

My favorite thing about STEM Premier is...how a student’s profile can be entirely customizable to reflect their own interests, activities, passions, and - best of all - their personality!

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

Big Names in Industry Recognize Many Paths to Success

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For the past two decades, enrollment numbers at America’s universities have been steadily rising as high school graduates rush to obtain what they - and their parents - perceive as the ticket to a well-paying job: a four-year degree.

However, a four-year degree is not the only route to professional success, and some of the nation’s most prestigious employers are beginning to acknowledge this fact. It’s old news that Google has long shrugged its shoulders over college degrees when assessing applicants. Now many more are following their lead, including Apple, IBM, Bank of America, and Ernst & Young.

So why is this? Because it’s not necessarily the diploma they’re after; It’s the skill set they want.    

“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door,” says Maggie Stilwell, Ernst and Young’s managing partner for talent.

In other words, as long as an applicant possesses the knowledge and skills necessary for success, they will be an attractive hire. It doesn’t matter whether those skills were learned in a university seminar, a technical college workshop, or in the applicant’s own home.  

Everyone’s path to success is unique. That’s the belief our virtual ecosystem is built on, and why opportunity-seekers utilize STEM Premier regardless of their professional journey. While a four-year degree is the goal of many of our users, many others are breaking away from this traditional path, and are represented by robotics prodigies, engineering aficionados, and promising young professionals.    

Our users are exposed to a multitude of opportunities, many of which they may have never even considered before. For example, many organizations are so desperate for certain technical skills and certifications that they have created programs for young employees to work for them while footing the bill for their education. As a result, the employee is earning not only a paycheck, but a degree as well!

The world’s educational landscape continues to shift. There’s no telling what “traditional” academic pathways will fall by the wayside and what will take their place.

That’s why we do what we do. Because on STEM Premier, all paths can lead to success.

STEM Premier user Connor Woods found an internship on STEM Premier - with us!

Connor Woods was in high school when he first combined his two greatest interests: baseball and statistical analysis. At the time, college baseball had recently enacted a rules change stipulating the use of flat-seam baseballs instead of the raised-seam balls teams had previously played with.

“It was supposed to infuse more offense into the game,” explained Connor, “and I wanted to see if that’s really what happened.” The question became the topic of his senior thesis at Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston.

Although his results were inconclusive, Connor - a right-handed pitcher himself - was pleased with how his thesis turned out. The research project taught him how to gather and organize data, perform analysis, and draw conclusions from it.

But more than that, he learned that he wants his skills to impact more than just the baseball diamond. “I really want to impact people’s lives. To impact communities,” he explains.

That’s why we were stoked when he connected with us on - where else? - STEM Premier about a summer internship opportunity. 

“I enjoy opportunities where I can see the results of my work. Working for a technology start-up was perfect. I really got to dive into the company, and they welcomed me like family.”

As an intern, Connor worked directly alongside our team assisting with various facets of our operations, from sitting in on engagement meetings to communicating directly with students in order to improve the user experience. He even did his own “senior thesis” project for us: performing a comprehensive analysis of our user base. He presented his findings to the entire company prior to returning to Claremont, California to begin his junior year at Pomona College.   

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“It was big confidence boost for me to take vast amounts of data and break it down into actionable conclusions,” he says.  

It was a big confidence boost for us to. We were excited to hear what he had to say. 

“I was amazed by the amount of female student users who are interested in STEM," he explains, "We hear so much about STEM areas being primarily dominated by males. The data from STEM Premier’s user base indicates that the tides might be shifting.”

He even delved into the nitty-gritty of our user base, drilling down into stats like profile completion rate and the number of scholarships a student applied for. From there, he identified a large population of students who are taking full advantage of the opportunities we have to offer.

“The amount of motivated first-generation students on STEM Premier is significant. It’s a population that colleges and companies would surely want to take note of.”

Although we were bummed that he had to return to school in August, we hope his time spent with us has a lasting influence on his professional aspirations. Working toward his degree in economics with minors in Spanish and mathematics, Connor - who is also a relief pitcher for Pomona College - plans to apply his skills in the non-profit or educational fields upon graduating.

While the professional aspect of his internship was rewarding, Connor says that he’ll always remember the life lessons he learned from our leaders.

“One thing [CEO] Casey Welch taught me was that - like members of a baseball team - everyone is going to have strengths and weaknesses. It’s how you combine the different strengths of different people that makes a great team.”

From all of us here at STEM Premier, thanks Connor! 

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STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Meigan Wu

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!

Our previous spotlight was on Anna Weinstein from Denver, Colorado. Now - hailing from Bakersfield, California - it's Meigan Wu's time to shine!

Honored as valedictorian of her high school class, Meigan is undeniably a "renaissance woman." She was named as both the top instrumental music student and top science student of her high school, and her contributions to her tennis squad earned her the distinction of "most inspirational player." She was also presented the Good Citizens Award by the Daughters of the American Revolution  for patriotism and service to her community. 

It is no surprise then that she received the 23rd Congressional District of California Merit Award personally presented by Congressman Kevin McCarthy for demonstrated excellence in academics, citizenship, and leadership skills. 

Meigan recently enrolled at UCLA after spending her summer interning with an environmental consulting firm. She intends to major in microbiology, immunology, and molecular genetics.

Read more about Meigan below in her own words.

Meigan Wu

Bakersfield, California

UCLA

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...I am obsessed with Walt Disney films and characters. My favorite Disney movies are Peter Pan and Mulan.

For fun, I like to...play music on my flute! I especially love playing with others in duets, small ensembles, orchestras, and bands.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Empress Wu Zetian, the only female ruler in Chinese history. 

The best teacher I’ve ever had was...my AP Calculus BC teacher and high school band director. Both are very passionate about the subjects they teach and are always there to help and support me!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...Pinterest.

In ten years, I see myself...living a comfortable lifestyle in a suburban area. I imagine myself as a classy researcher making discoveries in a well-known institute. 

My greatest dream is...to travel the world with my friends and family.

My favorite thing about STEM Premier is...being able to organize my information in an easily accessible way, and I really appreciate the resume STEM Premier generates.

We hope for the best for you Meigan! 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: Anna Weinstein

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!

Our previous spotlight was on Jonathan Banks from Oak Park, Illinois. Now, it's time to shine it on Anna Weinstein from Denver, Colorado! 

Anna recently graduated from Cherry Creek High School in Greenwood Village, Colorado - a suburb of Denver - where she was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and an AP National Scholar. Her nimble footwork on the pitch also earned her All-Conference Honorable Mention recognition for women's soccer.

She was accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she will begin classes this fall and continue her soccer career. 

Read more about Anna below in her own words.

Anna Weinstein

Greenwood Village, Colorado

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...I kick box in my free time 

For fun, I like to...spend time in the mountains camping, kayaking, skiing, climbing fourteeners, and just enjoying the fresh air

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...L.L. Zamenhof, the creator of Esperanto. He holds a unique position as the creator of the most widely spoken constructed auxiliary language in the world, and as such presents an interesting character.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...either my 6th grade Math teacher or 11th and 12th grade English teacher because they both created an environment that encouraged students to independently confront issues in creative ways. In English, about a third of the class would stay after class to continue discussing different topics with the teacher

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...Duolingo and Morse Coach to continue learning Esperanto and to start learning German and morse code

After high school, my next step is...to attend MIT and major in Computer Science and possibly Brain and Cognitive Science as well. I also hope to travel and study abroad in Spain, Ireland, or really anywhere

In ten years, I see myself...working with a company that allows me to work on creative solutions to intriguing questions connected to psychological and physical health. I may also have completed graduate school.

My greatest dream is...to build a machine that can shrink and enlarge matter to resolve any problem ranging from pollution to resource competition. But more realistically, I aspire to contribute to society on a large scale by working on programs that help research, diagnose, or treat different aspects of mental and physical health. Current apps like Sea Hero Quest which generates data for Alzheimers research and fantastical creations like the psychoanalytic game in “Ender’s Game” fuel these goals.

My favorite thing about STEM Premier is...the opportunities it provides to connect with different organizations that align with my goals and interests.

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

"War for Talent" Spurs Businesses to Extend Talent Pipelines into High Schools

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Seven years ago, IBM realized that their talent pipeline strategy needed an overhaul. Like a poorly managed pension fund, the output it was generating would eventually be outstripped by an ever-increasing need for specific skills and knowledge; their system was no longer a long-term solution. It needed a fix before it all came crashing down.

"There's a war for talent across all our competitors,” said IBM Foundation President Jennifer Ryan Crozier, “We know we're going to need a lot of different pathways to bring talent in.”

So in 2011, IBM became the first “P-Tech” business, partnering with a Brooklyn high school and the City University of New York. The intended outcome? To produce qualified candidates for the types of jobs which IBM knows will face critical talent shortages in the future.

P-Tech is a six-year academic and vocational tech program which allows students in grades 9 through 14 to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an industry-recognized associate degree while also gaining relevant work experience in emerging fields.

Since 2011, more than 400 additional organizations such as Motorola, Verizon, and Dow Chemical have joined IBM in this exponentially-expanding experiment with over 80 high schools across the country. The companies offer input on the curriculum, bring students on site, pair them with employee mentors, and offer paid internships.

These organizations know they are on the cutting edge of talent pipeline management. The investments they are making today have placed them on the inside track, and are putting them in prime position to attract the skilled workers which these programs aim to produce in the years to come. In most cases, it’s the first professional contact these students ever experience.

"This is about preparing the next generation of the workforce," Crozier says. "It's not a short-term fix for roles we have open today," she said.

Of course, not every organization has the vast resources of Verizon, Dow, or Big Blue to develop such robust recruiting programs.

That is where STEM Premier levels the playing ground.

By utilizing the STEM Premier platform, companies and organizations can tap into a digital environment of hundreds of thousands of high school students across the country. You can connect and build relationships with these students - the same way that IBM does - without investing millions of dollars to do it.

Ryan Church Awarded STEM Premier Dashboard Scholarship

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: Describe a teacher or course that drew your interest to a certain STEM career or area of study.

Although we had many fantastic applicants, we could only choose one. And so we are pleased to announce Ryan Church from North Carolina as our most recent Dashboard Scholar!

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Ryan recently graduated from John T. Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC where he was extremely active in his chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals; as a senior, he was also elected President of his chapter. He was voted captain of his soccer team twice, and helped lead his teammates to back-to-back conference titles. He will be enrolling at the University of South Carolina this fall.   

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

1. Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I love thrift shopping and most of my shirts are from thrift stores.

2. For fun, I like to...play soccer and go to the beach with friends.

3. Two people I wish I could meet are...Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bob Ross because I love their shows and I feel like they both have lots of knowledge and interesting life advice to share.

4. The best teachers I've ever had were...Mrs. Coston and Mr. Terzian. Both of them were great and gave me the passion to pursue biology in college and as a career.

5. The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the University of South Carolina app, because I love my future school.

6. After high school, my next step is...to attend the University of South Carolina to study biology.

7. In ten years, I see myself...either in dental school or pursuing a biological research career.

8. My greatest dream is...to spend my days in a lab working to discover new things that will benefit the world.

9. The thing I like the most about STEM Premier is...that it connected me with many scholarship opportunities and gave me the chance to get myself out there and be rewarded for my hard work.

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

Congratulations Ryan, good luck as you begin your college career. Go Gamecocks!

The Five Best Ways Colleges & Companies Find Talent with STEM Premier

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Finding the right talent is tough. It doesn’t matter whether you’re recruiting next fall’s incoming class for your university or ensuring your organization has the professionals it needs to grow and succeed. Nobody ever said it was easy to build a pipeline of talent. But we can make it a lot easier.

STEM Premier’s search module allows organizational users to search our database of hundreds of thousands of individuals based on a limitless combination of criteria, giving you the flexibility you need in your search. You can dial in and micro-target exactly the type of people you're looking for. When it comes to finding needles in a haystack, think of it as your digital pitchfork. 

Here’s just a few ways you can narrow down the prospects.

College Interests:

College recruiters, we know you spend long hours on the road visiting high schools and college fairs, so let’s make your life a little easier. Start your search without even leaving campus by finding all the students who are already interested in attending your university, regardless of where they reside. Do you recruit from the same pool of students as one of your peer institutions? Use that information to find students who may be interested in your school as well. No longer will geography and time dictate your limits. 

Credentials:

If your organization needs work-ready candidates who can hit the ground running, you'll want to start your search here. Whether it's a certificate, license, diploma, or badge, you can find those qualified candidates with just a few clicks. Browse skilled individuals across a plethora of certifications offered by nationally-recognized organizations, such as the American Welding Society

Associations:

Companies and colleges like individuals who get involved. Engagement in student associations, clubs, teams, and professional organizations indicates higher levels of initiative, drive, and leadership. Those are all soft skills which businesses and schools love. But maybe it's professionals skills you want, such as the technical expertise honed by organizations like SkillsUSA. Or the business acumen developed by Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).  Search across a wide range of organizational involvement to find who want to connect with. 

Career Interests:

If a student is interested in your industry, that's a great opportunity to start a conversation with them. But even if they are not, young adults are open to a future of possibilities. Even if their career interests aren't directly related to your organization or field, they may be similar. Find students based on a vast multitude of career interests, and use that passion as a segue to open a discussion with them. 

Next Step:

A four-year college isn’t always the best fit for a graduating high school student. There are millions of students whose next step is to attend a community college, a trade school, enter the military, or jump right into the workforce. Find the candidates who you know will be most receptive to what your business or organization has to offer them.

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Jonathan Banks

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!

Our previous spotlight was on Kaylee Smith from Stillwater, Oklahoma. Now, it's time for Jonathan Banks from Oak Park, Illinois to shine!

For Jonathan, it's all about making people smile. That's one of the reasons he aspires to attend dental school and become an oral surgeon. He was recently recognized as an Illinois State Scholar, an honor given to the top students in the state. However, his most impressive academic achievement may be his perfect 36 score on the ACT!

When it comes to creating smiles, it's not just about dentistry; Jonathan also authors a blog aimed at inspiring young people to live their best lives. 

Read more about Jonathan below in his own words.

Jonathan Banks

Oak Park, IL

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...My family and I have kept a vegan diet for over 6 years! Since we watched the documentary Forks over Knives that taught us about healthy lifestyles, we decided to change the way we eat and live, and it's been great!

For fun, I like to...make music. I have played saxophone for over eight years, and I just love the feeling of playing music. My favorite is jazz, and playing in my school jazz combo is one of my favorite extracurriculars. I also like blogging, and I try to keep my site updated as often as I can with inspirational blog posts. You can find me at www.jbgreatday.com

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Pythagoras; he seemed to be right about a lot of things.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...Ooh. That's tough. My teachers have been great for pretty much my entire educational experience, and I credit them for my academic success thus far. I'd have to say one of the classes I enjoyed the most was my sophomore honors chemistry class taught by Ms. Cheryl Rulis. She helped make chemistry fun, and every day in that class I felt my understanding grow. She never failed to challenge and push all of her students so we could learn and grow. 

The last app I downloaded on my phone was..."Really Bad Chess." I saw it in the app store, and I think it's pretty cool. It's a fun spin-off of chess, and I like it because it forces me to think about the game I've played for years in a different way. I recommend!

After high school, my next step is...to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago (Go flames!!). I will study biological sciences and go on to dental school so I can ultimately become an oral surgeon. I like smiles a lot, so I want to go into a profession that revolves around helping people smile easier. 

My greatest dream is...To help as many people as possible, as much as possible. I want to help people smile more.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...how it connects students with opportunities that help them grow into the wonderful people we all will soon become. The connections that STEM Premier provide are powerful. 

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

South Carolina Ports Authority Holds First STEM Premier Signing Day

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The ink had just begun to dry on Anthony Richburg Jr.’s letter of intent when he donned the Carolina blue helmet and gave the cameras a bright smile along with two excited thumbs up.

No, he hadn’t just signed to play for the UNC Tarheels; rather, the promising 18-year-old had chosen to begin his professional career with The South Carolina Ports Authority.  

In its first-ever “Signing Day” on June 19, SPCA was proud to have landed the recent North Charleston High School graduate, a promising student they would have never found if not for his STEM Premier profile.

“We welcome Anthony Richburg to our team as the Port’s first hire from the STEM Premier partnership,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome, “and look forward to continuing to engage with local high schools on job opportunities at the Port and ways to prepare for a maritime industry career.”

The event was held - fittingly - at the The Union Pier Passenger Terminal in Downtown Charleston. Anthony was accompanied by his mother and stepfather as well as SPCA Vice President Barbara Melvin and Director Rusty Matthews, who made the decision to hire Anthony.

After initially discovering Anthony’s profile on STEM Premier, representatives from SPCA contacted him via the platform’s direct messaging tool. Through direct contact and networking opportunities facilitated with STEM Premier, SPCA and Anthony built a relationship which culminated in his signing day commitment in June.

Identifying and connecting with Anthony early on was vital in regards to his ultimate decision. That same type of engagement will be the future for SPCA’s recruitment efforts.

“The Ports Authority and greater maritime community employ more than 9,000 people locally, and we’re pleased to partner with STEM Premier to raise awareness of the Port among students in the Tri-County region as part of our recruitment strategy for the next generation of our workforce,” Newsome said.

“Partnering with proactive companies like SCPA,” says STEM Premier Co-Founder Casey Welch, “who understand and appreciate the importance of early engagement is vital in helping to identify, engage, and recruiting the future workforce while also retaining top talent from the Charleston area like Anthony.”

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STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Kaylee Smith

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!

Our last spotlight was on Mika Domingo from Mililani, Hawaii. This week, it's time for Kaylee Smith from Stillwater, Oklahoma! 

Music is a big part of life for this aspiring biomedical scientist; Kaylee is a member of three different bands, and can play several instruments! She has been honored as Musician of the Year three times by her high school, and she even serves as Assistant Band Uniform Manager! But her world doesn't revolve solely around sharps and flats. She is also a highly involved mock trial participant, a HOSA member, and Vice President of her National Honor Society chapter. 

She hopes to one day find the cure for some of the world's most debilitating diseases. In fact, she's already decided to get a head start by serving this summer as a laboratory assistant at Oklahoma State University - a school she is currently considering attending. She also is interested in Washington University in St. Louis as well as the University of Tulsa. 

Read more about Kaylee below in her own words.

Kaylee Smith

Junior

Stillwater High School

Stillwater, OK

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I play 6 instruments: oboe, flute, euphonium, English horn, piano, and ukulele!

For fun, I like to...watch videos from my favorite drum corps, Carolina Crown, and hang out with my mini golden doodle, Gus.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Martin Luther King Jr. He made a drastic change in the world, and I think that is so inspiring.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...Mrs. Anderson. Her English class was super fun, and she is still my mock trial coach today!

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...Google Sheets. I used it in my Environmental Sustainability class as we were doing different tests, like fecal coliform, pH, and ammonia on water sources

After high school, my next step is...pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering with possibly a minor in statistics.

In ten years, I see myself...working in the biomedical research field researching Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. after completing my Ph.D.

My greatest dream is...to cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...how students can showcase themselves. I can tailor my platform to be unique for me, and it lets colleges and employers see a little bit about me in a new way.

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

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Announces Revolutionary New Assessment

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STEM Premier and Project Lead The Way (PTLW) have long been proud partners in their mission to enhance the student experience by opening doors and providing opportunities. PLTW students across the country have been leveraging the STEM Premier platform to showcase themselves to the world. 

That's why were excited to report that PLTW recently unveiled a new way of assessing student ability.

Until now, student assessment tools have tended to focus strictly on academic subject matter. While not flawed in and of themselves, a singular reliance on these assessments has left colleges, universities, and businesses in the dark when it comes to the holistic potential of the applicants they are considering. For example, an aptitude test will convey how proficient a student is in mathematics, but it cannot tell a potential employer how creative that same student may be. Or how well they problem-solve, communicate, and work with others. Skills which are very much desired by organizations all over the country spanning every industry.

PLTW resolved to tackle this problem head-on by designing an assessment tool which could effectively capture these “soft skills” while maintaining its emphasis in the fields of engineering, biomedical science, and computer science. The result, PLTW predicts, will revolutionize the way schools, employers, hiring managers, and scholarship providers evaluate the value of their candidates and applicants. “The ability to problem-solve, to think critically, to communicate, to collaborate – we really haven’t had a way to signal those skills to future employers,” says Dr. Vince Bertram, President and CEO of Project Lead The Way, “The new PLTW Assessment will allow us to do that.”

To help design this new tool, PLTW assembled a coalition of thirty-eight experts who are respected professionals in secondary education, higher education, and industry. This coalition consisted of deans, faculty members, hiring managers, CEOs, engineers, and others representing widely-respected entities such as Duke University, Vanderbilt University, NASA, FedEx, John Deere, and Eli Lilly. This PLTW Test Advisory Panel provided input as to which skills are the most valuable to their organizations. The final verdicts? Creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, communication, ethical reasoning, and mindset.

Then, assisted by nationally recognized psychometricians, they figured out the best ways to measure those skills within the context of a standardized testing environment. Naturally - considering the nature of what they were measuring - they had to put their own problem-solving talents “to the test” and think outside the box.

The resulting assessment format is one which redefines standardized testing. It is interactive and utilizes simulations, video stimuli, situational judgment questions, and other types of challenges to measure the test-taker’s real world ability to apply their skills and knowledge. It effectively eliminates the possibility for students to “beat the system” by cramming. It also closes loopholes inherent in other standardized tests, such as “successful guessing.”

400,000 PLTW students across the country will take the assessment starting in the 2018-2019 school year, followed by an estimated 450,000 during the 2019-2020 school year. Upon completing the assessment, these students will have a comprehensive metric which will have a plethora of relevant applications, from scholarships to job opportunities.  

STEM Premier salutes PLTW and congratulates them on the creation of their new assessment. We believe that students are more than simply their academic test scores. Every student on the STEM Premier platform is unique in their own right. That's why STEM Premier allows student to add videos to their profile and provides a skills showcase section; so they can show off the talents that don't come across through a grade or test score!

STEM Premier Spotlight: Michigan

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Quick Facts:

  • STEM Premier Secondary-Level Students: 4,700+
  • Top College Interests: University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Grand Valley State University
  • Top Intended Majors: Pre-Med, Nursing, Computer Science

We're heading up to the Wolverine State for our newest State Spotlight for a closer look at STEM Premier students in Michigan. The Great Recession of 2008 hit the state of Michigan especially hard, and 2009 found the state in a severe economic rut. However, Michigan has resiliently bounced back and is now the nation's seventh-fastest growing economy. 

The manufacturing legacy of Michigan lives on, as that industry still represents the largest portion of the state's economy. However, economist have noted that diversification has been one of the factors in helping lift Michigan out of the economic mud. The finance industry, comprising 18% of the state's economy, is right behind manufacturing's 19%. Unemployment in Michigan is currently at a 20-year low. 

Michigan’s largest population of STEM Premier students is located in and around Detroit - which happens to be the hometown of our fantastic partner, SME - with other sizable pockets around Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Flint. However, STEM Premier students are all over the state including it's Northern tip in towns like Traverse City, and in the Upper Peninsula in places like Marquette. 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. This is particularly true for STEM Premier user Onyewuchi Ndukwe, a rising high school senior from Detroit, who hopes to become an optometrist and one day return to her home country of Nigeria to create an organization which provides glasses and contact lenses. 

However, true to Michigan's economic legacy, mechanical engineering is also a top choice for the state's students. 

ACT’s 2017 Condition of STEM Report on Michigan indicates that 55% of Michigan’s high school seniors express an interest in STEM, which is above the national average. However, ACT warns, only 56 students who were assessed in the inventory indicated an interest in a career in math or science education. This indicates that the state may face a STEM educator shortage in the coming years. 

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

STEM Premier Top 100 Spotlight: Mika Domingo

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 Matthew Frost from Hood River, Oregon. This week, we're headed way out into the Pacific to shine it on Mika Domingo from Mililani, Hawaii! 

Mika envisions for herself a career in healthcare, and her passion for the field has already taken root. She has already served on the Teen Advisory Council for the Hawaii Meth Project and was involved with the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii. She has also been a reliable volunteer for Kaiser Permanente, assisting in various departments such as the pediatrics ward. Recently, Mika was a qualifier for the 2017 HOSA International Leadership Conference for prepared speaking. 

She recently graduated as valedicatorian of her high school and will be attending Santa Clara Universtiy next fall as a Presidential Scholar. 

Read more about Mika below in her own words.

Mika Domingo

Senior

Mililani High School

Mililani, HI

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Something you wouldn't know about me is...that I am a competitive gymnast! I’ve been doing competitive gymnastics for about 12 years and I am currently a level 9 gymnast. This year I won the all-around state champion title for my age group, and qualified to compete in the Western National Championships. 

For fun, I like to...read and listen to musicals.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Vera Cáslavská. She was an Olympic gymnast, and at the 1968 Olympics she protested the invasion of her home country of Czechoslovakia on the podium.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...my calculus teacher. I’ve had him for AP Calculus BC last year and Calculus 3 this year. He makes math class so enjoyable and I’m very grateful for him. This week, we are using differential equations to make mathematical models where vampires, humans and other species may peacefully coexist.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...the Tamagotchi app

After high school, my next step is...to attend a four-year University (still undecided) to major in biomedical engineering.

In ten years, I see myself...hopefully working in the medical field doing a job I truly enjoy

My greatest dream is...to become a doctor. I’ve had this dream since I was about five years old, and it hasn’t changed yet. I’m not sure what I’d like to specialize in yet but the fields of immunology and infectious disease especially interest me.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...the endless opportunities that you can find on this website. I initially joined to explore HOSA’s opportunities, but I have encountered many other opportunities while using STEM Premier.

We hope for the best for you Mika, 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: Matthew Frost

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 time, our spotlight was all about Laura Mulrooney from Raleigh, North Carolina. Today, we're shining it on Matthew Frost from Hood River, Oregon!

An avid robotics enthusiast, Matthew has been a FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics World Championship competitor for two years running, and recently competed in Houston, Texas against other teams from all around the world.

His love for robotics drove him to design a mobile "Fab Lab" which he uses to visit local elementary schools to promote STEM and robotics. As a high school student, his proficiency in mathematics and science has allowed him to tutor college-level students. Talk about flipping the script! It's no wonder that he was voted ""Most Likely to Become The Next Einstein" by his classmates

Read more about Matthew below in his own words.

Matthew Frost

Senior

Hood River Valley High School

Hood River, OR

For fun, I like to...WORK WITH ROBOTICS! So much learning and life skills come out of these activities, and the innovation is so exciting.

Something you wouldn't know about me is...I love writing "To-Do" lists for just about anything. Nothing is more satisfying than being able to recycle the piece of paper with a bunch of completed tasks on it.

If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, I would want to meet...Albert Einstein or another scientist who has changed today's world. Watching them invent a brand new technology would be amazing.

The best teacher I’ve ever had is...either my 8th grade math teacher who taught us calculus or my 11th/12th grade English teacher who "sometimes" gets off track to teach my class life lessons and important skills.

The last app I downloaded on my phone was...a game called Psych to play with my robotics team. I highly recommend it for parties or large groups of people!

After high school, my next step is...to go to college and get a degree in engineering.

In ten years, I see myself...if all goes well, sitting on a beach in the Caribbean, watching the sun appear over the horizon. In reality, I'll probably be sitting at a desk late at night trying to finish up some cool engineering project.

My greatest dream is...helping humanity through engineering.

The thing I like about STEM Premier most is...the endless opportunities it has.

We hope for the best for you Matthew, 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: 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!