education

STEM Premier Spotlight: Texas

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The Rundown:

  • STEM Premier Student Accounts: 20,000

  • Male/Female User Split: Male - 41%, Female - 59%

  • Next Step:

    • College - 92%

    • Technical or Community College - 5%

    • Workforce/Military - 3%

  • Top High School Representation:

    • Manvel High School (Manvel)

    • Ball High School (Galveston)

    • Brazoswood High School (Clute)

    • Bel Air High School (El Paso)

    • DeBakey High School for Health Professions (Houston)

  • Top Career Interests:

    • Surgeons

    • Pediatricians

    • Mechanical Engineers

    • Registered Nurses

    • Aerospace Engineers

  • Top In-State College Interests:

    • University of Texas

    • Texas A&M University

    • Baylor University

    • Rice University

    • University of Houston

  • Top Out-of-State College Interests:

    • Stanford University

    • Harvard University

    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    • University of California - Berkeley

    • Johns Hopkins University

  • Number of Post-Secondary Student Users: 700

The last time we checked in with the Lone Star State, it had just over 3,000 student users. That number has since grown seven-fold to over 20,000! Texas also boasts nine of the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100!

Female student profiles in Texas outnumber males 59% to 41%, which continues to be encouraging news for a range of professions and industries historically considered to be dominated by men; healthcare and engineering are two of the state’s most popular career interests. In fact, nearly 1,700 female students in Texas are members of HOSA - Future Health Professionals.

But some of the most exciting news about Texas is the diversity of our student population. Nearly 10% of student users identify as first-generation students, and it is one of the only states where minority users (Hispanic/Latino) comprise the largest proportion of our users!

STEM Premier Spotlight: South Carolina

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The Rundown:

  • STEM Premier Student Accounts: 70,000

  • Male/Female User Split: Male - 48%, Female - 52%

  • Next Step:

    • College - 70%

    • Technical or Community College - 13%

    • Workforce/Military - 17%

  • Top High School Representation:

    • Cane Bay High School

    • Summerville High School

    • Goose Creek High School

    • Aiken High School

    • Fort Dorchester High School

  • Top Career Interests:

    • Registered Nurses

    • Mechanical Engineers

    • Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home Health Aides

    • Surgeons

    • Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers

  • Top In-State College Interests:

    • Clemson University

    • University of South Carolina (Columbia)

    • College of Charleston

    • Coastal Carolina University

    • Winthrop University

  • Top Out-of-State College Interests:

    • Duke University

    • University of North Carolina

    • University of Georgia

    • North Carolina State University

    • Florida State University

  • Number of Post-Secondary Student Users: 1,500

It’s been nearly two years since our last spotlight on the state of South Carolina. And my how things have changed! The number of STEM Premier student users has grown exponentially since then, which means so too has our data and insight into this population of young talent.

Powered in large part by our relationship with SC Future Makers, over 50,000 students have joined our platform in the past two years to connect with schools, businesses, and organizations.

It’s true that much of our talent resides in the state’s larger metropolitan areas, but that’s to be expected. What has us totally pumped is how deeply the STEM Premier platform has reached every corner of the state. This enables every student to have a fair shake, whether they’re in Charleston or Chesterfield. And speaking of Chesterfield, we know 40 students there who are interested in becoming a classroom teacher. That’s breaking news for a state which is facing a critical teacher shortage!

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 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 Releases 2018 Top 100 Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Click here to view the 2018 STEM Premier Top 100

STEM Premier Spotlight: Oklahoma

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Quick Facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Closer: Student Interest in Social Sciences

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

And go farther they did.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ACT Releases 2017 Report on The Condition of STEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connecting America's Rural Students with Higher Education

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEM Premier Spotlight: Nickie Daves

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

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

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

                            Nickie Daves, RN, CCRN

                     Floyd. D. Johnson Technology Center

                               York School District

                               York, South Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEM Premier Spotlight: Arizona

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Quick Facts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEM Premier Powers SME's SOUTH-TEC Rising Stars Day

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We at STEM Premier always love a challenge. 

In October, we were asked by our friends at SME to help them identify and connect with the top STEM and CTE high school talent in the South and invite them to apply for an inaugural recognition event called Champions of Tomorrow: Rising Stars Day - a day recognizing outstanding STEM and CTE students from South Carolina and North Carolina.

The event would occur at SME's SOUTH-TEC - A multi-day event which attracts manufacturers, distributors and equipment builders from across the world, SOUTH-TEC is a hub of industry evolution and innovation. It also presented an excellent opportunity to shine a spotlight on these industries, and specifically on the young students of today who will be industry leaders tomorrow.

The annual event is hosted by SME in partnership with AMT, and supported by our friends at SC FutureMakers and SkillsUSA in Greenville, SC.

With over 300,000 of the best and brightest in the country on STEM Premier, SME knew the fastest way to find and engage students fitting to be Rising Stars was through our virtual platform.

The application process was hosted through STEM Premier, and was a huge success. Within a few days, SME received a large number of applications from many deserving students in North and South Carolina. On October 24, thirty-four high school juniors and seniors were honored in front of industry leaders and representatives. It was an exciting moment for both the students and professionals.

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The day included a panel discussion on workforce development featuring prominent leaders from both private and public sectors, including SkillsUSA Executive Director Timothy Lawrence, South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, and BMW’s Community and Government Relations Manager Max Metcalf. Also providing remarks were SME CEO Jeffery Krause and STEM Premier Co-Founder Casey Welch.

STEM Premier even helped SME design a special digital badge recognizing the Rising Stars and proudly displays on their STEM Premier profiles alongside their other skills, talents, and achievements.

We were proud to play a role in such a prestigious event, and we wish the best of luck to each and every student recognized as a Rising Star.

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Looking Closer: Student Interest in Media and Communications

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

As the U.S. continues its transition into a knowledge economy, media and communications professions are becoming increasingly prevalent as they are necessary for the generation, curation, translation, and dissemination of information. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that media and communication occupations will grow six percent from 2016 to 2026, resulting in approximately 45,000 new jobs.

According to CollegeFactual.com, the top universities in the U.S. for media and communications include Stanford, The University of Pennsylvania, American University, University of Southern California, Northwestern, and Emerson College (MA).

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

  • Broadcast Technicians
  • Editors
  • Interpreters
  • Public Relations Specialists
  • News Analysts
  • Reporters

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

Making an Impact: SC Future Makers

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In 2016, we embarked on a journey with the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA) to launch SC Future Makers, an ambitious initiative to connect South Carolina’s business and the state’s talented students.

Powered by the STEM Premier platform, SC Future Makers provides a powerful resource for students, schools, and businesses to learn about each other and connect in meaningful, productive ways. And within just one year of its implementation, it’s clear that it’s making an impact throughout the state.  

Already 43% of South Carolina’s high schools across 53 of the state’s 81 districts have adopted the SC Future Makers initiative, resulting in over 44,000 new student profiles on STEM Premier. This rapid growth is attributed to the flexibility that the initiative's online nature provides. “Unlike a career day,” explains James Richter, SCMA Director of Workforce Development “SC Future Makers profiles are available 24-7 and can be updated.”

And because high schools serve as the conduit for this opportunity, students can equally participate regardless of geography or socioeconomic background. As with all STEM Premier student profiles, registering and maintaining an account is free, allowing students to establish their presence and immediately begin connecting with employers.

“Companies and colleges need to reach students online, but do so in a relevant way,” says Richter. “Oftentimes social media posts are not the most effective way to communicate a larger story to students because that's their personal domain. By empowering students to showcase their interests in professional profiles and connect to opportunities, we're working in their domain in a different way.”

But despite this early success, STEM Premier and SCMA are not resting on their laurels. We’ve set new goals, intending to implement SC Future Makers in virtually every South Carolina high school and technical college while reaching 100,000 student profiles.

New College Spotlight: Charleston Southern University

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In the vibrant Carolina lowcountry resides the newest STEM Premier institution: Charleston Southern University.

Founded in 1964, CSU is a Christian liberal arts institution which combines a faith-based approach and a mission of strong academic excellence. Its 60+ degree programs - offered both at the undergraduate and graduate level as well as online - provide a wide range of academic and vocational options for its 3,600 students. The academic programs are complemented by a NCAA Division 1 athletics program and an excellent student support apparatus.

Jameson Willey, Enrollment Services Programmer, explains that CSU’s unique mission means recruiting a special kind of student. “CSU looks for students that view their education as a priority,” he says, “students that want to be challenged and do their best.”

CSU knows these students are out there. However, their biggest recruiting obstacle is getting the CSU brand in front of them, especially when Clemson, the University of South Carolina, and the College of Charleston are also competing for attention.

“Our biggest challenge is getting on the radar of students so they can begin to have their eyes opened to us as a viable option,” Jameson says. “While other institutions in our state certainly have a unique appeal, we believe we have an appeal that is just as unique. CSU offers a lot of what these other institutions offer and, perhaps more importantly, a lot of what they cannot offer.”

“STEM Premier will help us to connect on a more personal level with students, allowing us to incorporate our intimate campus environment into our recruiting practices.”

Charleston Southern University boasts an impressive 14-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio which drives a more personalized approach to each academic program designed to develop critical problem-solving and communication skills.

“Our goal,” Jameson declares, “is to connect with students that will thrive in our unique environment.”

When asked to describe the student experience is like at CSU, Jameson didn’t shy away!

“CSU students enjoy a campus experience like no other! They benefit from a wealth of resources to help them succeed and have fun while they do it. From free tutoring and learning resources to NCAA Division 1 athletics and expansive extracurricular activities, we pride ourselves on our student-focus built upon a faith-based foundation. Not to mention, we are located minutes from historic Charleston, South Carolina.”

Learn more about Charleston Southern University.

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STEM Premier Spotlight: Tashiba Pearson

Last, month, we began a series of blog posts in order 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.

In June, we heard from Dr. Sean Alford, Superintendent of the Aiken County Public School District, who gave us his take on STEM Premier from an administrator’s point-of-view. This month, we want to shine the spotlight on someone who works directly with students to help them develop their professional plans and goals.

Tashiba Pearson is a passionate and dedicated educator, and a big fan of STEM Premier. Let’s see what she has to say about implementing STEM Premier in her school.

                                    Tashiba Pearson                           Career Development Facilitator                         York Comprehensive High School                                     York, South Carolina

                                    Tashiba Pearson

                       Career Development Facilitator

                     York Comprehensive High School

                                York, South Carolina

Tell us about your role with the school or district that you are involved with.
As the Career Development Facilitator (CDF), it is my role to prepare students for the workforce. I do this through career assessments, resume and cover letter writing, exposing students to non-traditional careers, and implementing career events and programming.

How did you get into education? What drew you to the profession?
I decided to get into education because I wanted to help students prepare for their future. My current role as a CDF allows me to work directly with students on job coaching and preparing them for the workforce.

What is your favorite thing about education?
My favorite thing about education is that it gives me an opportunity to partner with students and help them achieve their goals. I recognize that I don’t necessarily know what is best for any individual student. Success is when a student allows me to work as a team with them to reach their goals.

Tell us about your school!
York Comprehensive High School (YCHS) is an amazing school located in York, SC, which is a picturesque upcountry town in one of the largest historic districts in the United States. Located near both Charlotte NC and Rock Hill SC, the benefits of small town life mingle with the opportunities that larger cities provide. We have over 1600 students at our school. Students at YCHS are fortunate in that our technology center, Floyd D. Johnson, is housed in the same building.  Students at YCHS are able to take Advanced Placement, Honors Courses and Dual Credit courses.

How is STEM Premier helping/will help your school or district?
STEM Premier came to YCHS in March 2017 to roll out their platform in our school. Since that time, I have been contacted by businesses who are using STEM Premier to recruit students for positions with immediate openings. STEM Premier has given students a platform that allows them to connect with local employers and colleges.

Any neat stories so far?                                                                                                  I had a student come to my office and show me his STEM Premier app on his phone. He was very excited to show me that his profile had been viewed by a local company. The next day this student informed me that his profile was now being followed by this company. The student is a senior who will be graduating in May and his next step is to enter the workforce. STEM Premier allowed this student to directly connect with a potential employer and now he is one step closer to securing a career before graduating high school.

How did you implement STEM Premier? Are there any suggestions you would have for  other schools on how to best implement STEM Premier?
At YCHS we implemented STEM over a two-day period. We pre-assigned students to computer labs and facilitated rotating students in and out of the lab. STEM Premier staff led the roll-out and helped students to create profiles. We printed transcripts and gave them to students so they would have accurate information to enter into their profile.

My suggestion to other schools would be to “organize, organize, organize.” Rollout went smoothly at YCHS because we pre-assigned students to labs, we planned for how long students would be in the lab. We made a spreadsheet outlining which lab students were assigned to. We also had administration standing in the halls helping to direct students to computer labs.

What is your favorite part of the system?
My favorite part of the system is the Red Kite area. I love how accessible it makes scholarships. I often hear students say “I didn’t apply because I didn’t know about that scholarship” or “I wasn’t sure if I qualified”. This area eliminates those problems because it pre-populates scholarships that the student is qualified for.

What has your experience been with the STEM Premier team?
The STEM Premier staff who came to YCHS and helped with the rollout of STEM Premier were absolutely AMAZING. They were fun and energetic and the students responded well to them. It was evident that they were not trying to “sell” us on a product or system. They were passionate about STEM Premier and the ways it could benefit YCHS students. Prior to implementiation, they were all very helpful and were always available to answer any questions we had. I have seen their staff in the community at different events and they are like family now. I can always call on anyone on their team and get an immediate response.

What is the future impact that STEM Premier will have on your school or district?
STEM Premier will help YCHS students display their talents and academic success on a platform that will lead to job offers and connections with colleges and schools. STEM Premier will help students graduate with job offers in hand.

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!

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.