Broward County Public Schools and the newly-established Brinker Education Initiative partnered up to bring a Hispanic and Latino STEM empowerment exposition to CCHS on Saturday morning.
Set up in the large gym, the exposition featured multiple exhibitors, colleges and independent businesses looking to attract Hispanic potential science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) students. The exposition is the brainchild of Brinker Education Initiative founders Mary Ellen Brinker and her late husband Harry S. Brinker, Jr., whose funds were donated upon his death to the foundation.
“I selected STEM [to donate to] because we both were in a STEM career, which proved to be very profitable for us,” Brinker said. “But I also chose the Hispanic students because they are the youngest and fasting growing demographic in the country today, and it will not be long until they are the majority. They will be leading the nation.”
Several dozens of students, Hispanic and non-Hispanic alike, attended the exposition to speak to vendors and learn more about potential and local career paths in the STEM field. The convention also featured guest speaker Giannina Duran, an electrical Engineering student at Florida Atlantic University and Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at FAU. Business vendors at the event included TK2 Coding Academy, GameStop and Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
“We want to get all students involved in the STEM field,” a STEM and Computer Science supervisor for Broward County Public Schools said. “It is connected to every career you can imagine, no matter what you want to do… We need to have problem solvers that are going to create the new technology of the future.”
Sean Smith, the director of development at Marine Industries Association of South Florida and host of the educational series Salty Jobs, explained that STEM careers do not necessarily require a traditional higher level education. Smith’s video series explores the wide range of job opportunities in the marine field.
“We represent 500 different marine businesses here in South Florida, so we have career opportunities from yacht brokers to lawyers to insurance to all the trade skills – diesel mechanic, propeller technician, running gear mechanic, towboat captain – opportunities all across the board,” he said.
Local universities such as Florida International University (FIU), Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Nova Southeastern University (NSU), Keiser University and Broward Technical Colleges had booths at the exposition and attracted students with overviews of their respective schools and various displays.
“I thought it was pretty fun,” junior Philip Brinn said. “Not only because I got a ton of free stuff, but also because I got engage[d] in interesting conversations with the people there and got to participate in very fascinating activities, such as dissecting a cow eye.”
The Brinker Education Initiative offers several scholarships for Hispanic students and follows them through the college application process and even after their admission to provide support. More information can be found on their website at http://brinkereducationinitiative.org/
Photo by Sabrine Brismeur