Show me the money: How a Ph.D. chemist is helping corporate America team  up with K-12 STEM education programs

Show me the money: How a Ph.D. chemist is helping corporate America team up with K-12 STEM education programs

We hope this blog is making it abundantly clear that a chemistry degree qualifies you for a lot more than you might think. I mean, who knew a chemist could land a job at a Disney theme park where he could use his chemical knowledge to help make, for example, a more corrosion-resistant artificial skin? It seems, therefore, that a reasonable approach to discovering your chemistry dream job is this: Figure out what you’re passionate about and what gets you out of bed in the morning. Then find a job that lets you do that. (Word of caution: Not every job you can dream up will be able to pay the rent, so that’s something important to keep in mind). This seems to be the approach Zakiah Pierre is taking in pursuing her career. Although she started grad school thinking she’d go into forensic science, along the way she discovered she was really passionate about “mentoring and paving the way for our future engineers and scientists.” The more she got more involved in mentoring students, the more she became convinced that a science career that allowed her to have an immediate impact on students was the right path for her. That line of thinking has led her to where she is today with Change the Equation, an organization focused on improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for every child, with a particular focus on girls and students of color. One of the ways CTEq strives to accomplish its goals is by identifying innovative programs to advance STEM literary in the United States, measuring the success of these programs through research and analysis and replicating them in communities that need them most. This is where Zakiah comes in. As a research associate, she gathers data regarding the condition of STEM learning state-by-state and nationwide and assesses the impact of STEM learning programs that receive corporate support. By evaluating the success of various programs, she helps CTEq make a solid case for why companies should continue funding them—and expanding them to new, underserved sites. She also writes reports that let their partners know about the needs in STEM learning, with the hope that changes in policy will be made to address those needs. In addition to research and writing reports, Zakiah also blogs about science education news and programs and occasionally represents the organization at meetings around D.C. on a variety of STEM education topics. In the future, Zakiah hopes to expand her role to writing short briefs for peer-reviewed journals on current issues in K-12 STEM learning. It may be apparent by now that Zakiah has had to...

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