Thứ Ba, Tháng Năm 30, 2023
HomeNewsSTEM career scholarships can help Latinos fight social inequality

STEM career scholarships can help Latinos fight social inequality

When William, one of my son’s best friends, told me he was not going to continue his studies, I almost had a stomach ache. High school classes have ended and grades are being submitted. His GPA, although not perfect, is very good in science and math.

Why are you absent from school? I ask.

He told me, “I’m not doing very well in school and it’s going to be a long time until I graduate with my degree, and I need to work now. “Besides, I wouldn’t know how to pay for college.”

What if you get a scholarship?

How can I get one? he asks. “You have to be a ‘nerd’ for that, and the truth is I’m not that good at school.”

Two weeks later he returned very happy. He found a job paying $25 an hour at one of the Inland Empire department stores and would make about $1,000 a week at 19. He smiled and said to me, “I don’t think even my dad earns much. I will earn it now.”

At his age, $52,000 a year seems like a lot of money. But that’s not the case, especially in a state like California where the cost of living is soaring.

Another friend of mine who graduated from high school with a 3.9 GPA also decided not to continue.

“My family has no money and I don’t think I can get a scholarship,” he told me at the farewell party my sons organized for him after he decided to join the army. and about to begin training in Arizona.

What’s the matter with them? I thought. Both can have bright futures if they decide to continue their studies, but above all if they have motivation, confidence and a role model.

Unfortunately, this is the reality for thousands of Latino students, children of working families, who do not have the resources nor the information to help their children make better decisions for the future. of them.

“This has to change,” María Fernanda Trochimezuk told me. She came to the United States in 2000 to continue her education, precisely because she received a scholarship.

Maria Fernanda Trochimezuk

María Fernanda Trochimezuk is the founder of the IOScholarships platform.

(IOS Scholarship)

After studying marketing at UC Santa Barbara and being selected nationally to participate in Stanford’s Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative program, Trochimezuk never imagined that she would devote herself to building the path for students who are interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by providing them with access to economic and information resources.

Why help students find those careers and not others?

“Simply because they are where you can make more money and have more job opportunities,” she told me.

In 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and while she was a mother, Trochimezuk founded an organization called IOScholarships, which aims to help young people like my child’s friends find the scholarships they need to continue study. “Every year there are so many scholarships that nobody applies for. What a waste.”

She is right. Assn National Scholarship Providers. (IOScholarships is a member of that organization) reports that over the past 10 years, the number of scholarships awarded has increased by more than 45%. However, an estimated $100 million in scholarships are not awarded each year, largely due to a lack of applicants, Forbes reported in November 2021.

A path to follow

Gabriela Forter Cuevas

Gabriela Forter Cuevas graduated from UCLA and is currently pursuing graduate school at Stanford and Harvard thanks to a scholarship she received.

(IOS Scholarship)

The iOS Scholarship fulfills several goals. The first thing, says Trochimezuk, is to help students learn about these scholarships and internship opportunities, and help them get them.

“The next goal is to put them in touch with other students who are already on that path and who can motivate them to keep going.”

Trochimezuk used his own savings to create a platform that works through a series of algorithms to find the best scholarship for each student. She then received a grant from Google PowerUp.

Although the tool is relatively new, its success has been enormous. To date, more than 10,000 students have applied for scholarships through IOScholarships.

“My goal is to get over a million young people to apply for scholarships through this platform and contribute more than $1 billion to the economy with their workforce,” said Trochimezuk, who has spent the early life in Buenos Aires, said. “Ever since I was little, my parents have said that I love connecting with friends. So that’s what I keep doing.”

She is not an activist fighting the lack of opportunity or criticizing the inequality faced by Latinos and other minority students. Instead, she focuses on creating a community service network that students can turn to, not only to find funding for their studies but also to meet other Latinos, people who are prominent and are working in the fields of science and technology.

“I believe education is the main tool for social change,” she told me.

please open the door

“We need to create role models, we need other successful young Latinos to open the door for the latecomers. If we don’t help ourselves, no one will,” said Trochimezuk.

Ian Agrela Defreites

Ian Agrela Defreites is studying computer science at the University of Florida.

(IOS Scholarship)

In some places, the door seems to be closed. For example, in Silicon Valley, which has the largest concentration of STEM jobs in the country and where the Latino population accounts for nearly 50%, less than 3% of high-paying, high-tech jobs are employed by professionals. Latin descent.

She believes the best way to break the cycle of poverty is to access well-paying STEM jobs. Figures from the US Department of Labor confirm that. While all non-STEM occupations in the U.S. have an average salary of $40,120 per year in 2021, median earnings for STEM occupations more than double, at $95,420 per year.

According to a Department of Labor report titled “Beyond the Numbers,” IT industries are expected to be in high demand over the next decade.

According to financial website Smartasset, the fastest growing STEM careers that pay more than $100,000 are: physicist (average salary $152,430); computer and information researchers ($131,490); computer engineer ($128,170); computer network architect ($120,520); actuaries ($105,900); information security analyst ($102,600); and biochemists and biophysicists ($102,270).

Every month, IOScholarships adds new scholarships to its database, Trochimezuk said, and also posts “Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram (@IOScholarships) accounts. In addition, the site has a news, scholarship organizer designed to provide application instructions and money-saving tips. The platform also offers a career aptitude test designed to help students determine the degrees and careers that best suit their abilities, and streams a podcast called “Superheroes,” where Ethnic minority students can hear about the path that other students with similar backgrounds have followed.

“GPA is not everything,” says Trochimezuk. “One of the most important aspects is the essay that universities and scholarship providers require. The essay is often more important than the grade point average, because it shows a person’s ability to persevere in the face of difficulties and problems.”

Josue Gil-Silva, a young man who received a scholarship from the Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, agrees.

Alyssa Garbarino, center

Alyssa Garbarino, center, was selected to receive a $10,000 surprise wardrobe from Giving Closet. On the left is Kelsey Alamillo and on the right is IOScholarships founder María Fernanda Trochimezuk. Behind them is stylist Sam Russell, who donated a wardrobe to Garbarino to use for a job interview.

(IOS Scholarship)

“What I always advise other students is that they write openly, they express the difficulties they face, and they aim for the most important scholarships without fear of failure. The worst that can happen is they say ‘no’.”

There are many cases where effort pays off, such as that of Alyssa Garbarino, who studies biology at the Cal State Channel Islands and leads the Society for Neuroscience. She wants to be a doctor despite her personal and financial problems.

Her path was not easy. To support her studies, she works as a babysitter three days a week and studies 10 hours a week as part of a research grant.

Recently, she was preparing for a job interview and realized she didn’t have the right clothes. Luckily, she was selected by Giving Closet to receive a surprise wardrobe worth over $10,000.

“The only way forward is to help each other,” said Trochimezuk. “The reward is in sight.”

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