How A Grandmother’s Love For Her Grandson Brought STEM Education To Dallas’ Southside
Honoring Dallas City of Learning’s Partner of the Year, Young STEM Professionals
When Roz Davis started looking for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program for her grandson, she discovered that there were no such programs on the southside of Dallas. She settled on a program on the northside and traveled forty miles each way to get her scientifically-minded grandson the education he deserved, but she couldn’t stop thinking about the need she had discovered in her own community. With her background as a business owner and business consultant, Roz decided that she would start a program to bring STEM education to underrepresented students in her community.
In 2016, Young STEM Professionals was founded with three objectives: introduce various STEM opportunities and career paths to students, inspire students to seek a STEM career, and assist them in developing their leadership skills. Since then the program has provided access to STEM education to kids all across South Dallas, helping them learn more about the field and preparing them for college and the workforce.
STEM education is incredibly important for children, especially underrepresented students, to have access to, according to Roz. “There’s STEM in everything,” she says. “Children are naturally curious and we should take that opportunity to provide them with the education.” A major motivating factor for Roz as she created Young STEM Professionals was how successful people in STEM careers can be. “STEM careers pay about 40% more than average. We want to open kids’ eyes to the possibilities.”
“In addition to that,” Roz shares, “we want these kids to be involved in the discovery and innovation–in these careers–that contribute to the world.”
This STEM program not only helps kids prepare for their futures, but also gives them a way to open up and connect in the present. Roz shared the story of a student who attended an afterschool program run by Young STEM Professionals who, initially, had seemingly little interest in school. The student was vocal about not wanting to participate in the program and needed additional support from teachers. As he slowly warmed up to the class and found himself really interested in the project: building and controlling a remote control car. “His whole disposition changed,” Roz says. “Something that small connected with him, brought him out of his shell, and provided him with a safe place to have fun and learn. This program can catapult kids into a new life and new interests. It can spark a flame that explodes and taps into their potential.”
Through Young STEM Professionals’ partnership with Dallas City of Learning, they’ve been able to expand their dosage to reach even more youth than before and give them access to other program opportunities. The partnership has also provided their education and leadership teams with professional development resources that have helped them strengthen their mission of bringing quality STEM education to underrepresented students. “Dallas City of Learning is a wealth of knowledge, information, and support,” Roz shares.
As for being recognized with Dallas City of Learning’s Partner of the Year Award, Roz is grateful. This award recognizes Big Thought partners who have shown incredible growth and have responded in a big way to the need for high-quality education programs in their communities. “Young STEM Professionals has shown what it means to evolve, adapt, and grow,” Sergio Antonio Garcia, the senior manager of learning at Big Thought says. “We ask a lot from our Dallas City of Learning Partners and its partners like Young STEM Professionals that allow us to continue to thrive and sustain the Dallas City of Learning ecosystem.”
“It’s truly amazing,” Roz shares. “Just to be recognized by this organization for our work in the community is humbling.” Roz and the team at Young STEM Professionals are looking forward to continuing to serve the community and “leave the world just a little bit better.”
To learn more about Young STEM Professionals, visit their website.