I recall my high school experience of being the only female in a trigonometry class. It is still striking to me because I can remember often being singled out because there was a perception that I was not supposed to be in a higher level math class. In fact, one day my trigonometry teacher required me to solve a number of problems up at the board because I wore a dress to school that day. That is one reason why I have such a passion around supporting STEM.
We should encourage and inspire more of our best and brightest students—especially those from underrepresented or disadvantaged groups—to study in STEM fields because of the limitless opportunities associated with this area of study. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that entry-level technology and engineering programs often provide the bridge between math and science that ultimately encourage students to pursue not only advanced studies in STEM fields, but also STEM careers.
As Freeman Hrabowski III, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, states: “It’s well-documented that the United States needs a strong science and technology work force to maintain global leadership and competitiveness. The minds and talents of underrepresented minorities are a great, untapped resource that the nation can no longer afford to squander. Improving STEM education of our diverse citizenry will strengthen the science and engineering work force and boost the U.S. economy.”
It is with this passion that Graphic Packaging International has accelerated work encouraging students to study in STEM fields. In addition to the work at the college level sponsoring engineering interns and providing scholarships to engineering students, we have expanded our efforts to include STEM mentoring programs with the Atlanta Public Schools System and the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta.
STEM is now, and will increasingly be, the universal languages of the global marketplace. I strongly believe if we are to keep up with our global competitors, we must significantly increase our investments in STEM education.