Young Women’s Academy, UTEP Collaborate to Increase Number of Minorities in STEM/STEAM

Thanks to a partnership with UTEP, EPISD’s Young Women’s STEAM Research & Preparatory Academy, will play a key role in implementing strategies aimed at improving hiring patterns for minorities in the fields of science and engineering.

The University of Texas at El Paso is one of only nine universities to be invited to participate in the National Science Foundation’s Dissemination Conference at the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program in Anchorage next week.

As a participant, UTEP will leave the four-day gathering with a blueprint to implement strategies that could help minorities become more involved in science and engineering. The University already has identified EPISD’s Young Women’s Academy as a key partner in these strategies.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about a very successful model and how we can adapt it to fit our needs,” Principal Dr. Cynthia Ontiveros said. “The Academy will be one of nine schools nationwide that will have the opportunity to collaborate with their partner university to learn more about broadening STEM participation, which in our case means increasing the number of women in STEM/STEAM careers.”

Ontiveros and EPISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Carla Gonzalez will attend the conference to learn how the model can benefit El Paso students.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to expand options for our young ladies to get into the world of engineering, not only at the academy but also at Chapin High School, which has an engineering magnet program, as well as all other EPISD schools,” Gonzalez said. “I hope to learn from this very successful program and open that partnership with UTEP.”

Ontiveros hopes the partnership with UTEP will create meaningful experiences for her students, starting with a field trip to the engineering department in February.

“STEM careers have been male-dominated for so long so it’s hard for young women to find a place. It’s important to look at these kinds of learning models that help us create a place within the community so talent stays within the community,” she said.

“We are already talking about different ways to expose students to engineering and other STEM fields,” Ontiveros added. “These experiences are powerful for them as they move on and graduate and decide go to UTEP and pursue these careers.”

Author – Alicia Chumley