Anna Park - Great Minds in STEM
Executive Director and Board Member
Great Minds in STEM, a non-profit organization based in California, is celebrating its 24th year of servicing communities around the country by providing stellar and innovative national STEM programming. In 2011 alone, the GMiS team produced and executed programming that directly reached over 30,000 people.
Ms. Park received her J.D. degree from the University of Southern California and her B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Park also serves on additional non-profit boards and is a guest speaker or volunteer at many professional and student STEM events.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
The future success of the United States will greatly depend on our ability to encourage, educate, and support individuals who are passionate, curious and dedicated to STEM fields. We are still a relatively young nation and when we review our growth in STEM over the last 100 years the leaps we took were amazing. Now for the next 100 we must be able to fly, not leap, to keep pace and surpass the global competition in STEM. It is also a matter of national security as the way wars are fought, defended and won has changed dramatically. The continued successful defense of our country from future attacks will greatly depend on our military branches and intelligence agencies being able to have the best and brightest leaders, troops and civilians who are STEM trained and prepared.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
The most important thing we can do to have more women leaders in STEM is to expose and engage young girls, early-on, to participate in STEM hands-on activities, programs, camps, career days and college campus competitions. If a young lady today wants to become a singer, she knows she must practice, train and prepare her voice on a daily basis and there are many opportunities for her to perform at her school, church, community center or through competitions. She can even post her singing on YouTube. If the same young lady wants to be an engineer or scientist the opportunities to practice, train and prepare for these careers are not as obvious or ubiquitous. There is even less access to STEM activities and competitions in underserved communities. Unless there is a STEM professional in the family, most students, especially female students, also lack access to female STEM role models. GMiS is proud to have launched our Viva Technology K-12 STEM Education program ten years ago to fill this need in our underserved communities for young women and men. Additionally, GMiS has been documenting and showcasing the achievements of Hispanic women in STEM for the last 23 years and we are honored to share their stories to students across the country!
What initiative are you most proud?
GMiS has many outstanding programs and initiatives so it is a challenge to focus on just one as our scholarship recipients, College Bowl participants and award winners are all stellar role models. So with this said, the newest initiative I am most proud of is our STEM-Up Initiative which is building STEM capacity in a low-income, underserved community comprised of over 92,000 residents with a school-age population of approximately 20,000 students in Boyle Heights, a community in East Los Angeles, California. Such a large scale undertaking is a unique approach to STEM education. STEM-Up drives transformative change by leveraging the existing cultural richness of the community toward STEM. We have developed a menu of interrelated opportunities that engage students, parents, teachers, administrators, government agencies, corporations and community-based organizations around STEM hands-on activities, role models, and career options. STEM-Up is a five-year performance based contract awarded in 2008 from the U.S. Department of Defense, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District Office.