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Tech Gurus Inspire Students to Take on STEM Careers

P1040071Thurgood Marshall Academy celebrated Computer Science Education Week, the largest education event in history, with tech-gurus Pat Yongpradit, Chief Academic Officer of Code.org, La Tara Harris, AT&T’s Area Manager of External and Legislative Affairs, and Marty Rodgers, Managing Director of Accenture’s Washington, DC office. During a school-wide assembly earlier this week, the team of executive-level professionals encouraged students to take advantage of the many computer science resources TMA has to offer. Now, with a check of $10,000 from Code.org, TMA can continue to expand its computer science efforts and buy new computer hardware for students.

P1040054To kick off the week, TMA joined 60 million students from across the country and participated in an “Hour of Code”, an international campaign that empowers students to learn the dynamics of computer coding and programming. U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Megan Smith, was in attendance and wowed students when she introduced them to the number of careers that are available for students interested in STEM. STEM careers continue to be among the fastest growing fields due to the speed and depth of technology. Ms. Smith admitted that her passion for technology started in high school where she had “a lot of amazing teachers and experiences that I’m thankful for. Science lab was mandatory and math was a requirement,” she said of her high school.

P1040068Ms. Smith’s high school experiences sound a lot like those of TMA students. In fact, TMA’s longstanding efforts to provide a high-quality, college-preparatory curriculum that incorporates computer science into all grade-level course work were evident during the assembly as students participated in a coding activity that most computer science majors embark on in college. TMA students have an advantage according to Ms. Harris of AT&T who said, “you all are really blessed. You have a lot of resources here, within these walls, and teachers that love you and want to see you go far.”

P1040067Mr. Yongpradit, who presented TMA with the check, went on to give students advice on how to land a competitive tech job, many of which start off at $70,000 a year. Aside from mentioning major steps like taking a computer science course and getting an internship, Mr. Yongpradit also encouraged students to go to college—reinforcing TMA’s unique college culture.

Erica Culbreath, TMA Biology teacher who submitted the winning Code.org application, noted that TMA’s college culture offers a wealth of options to help students prepare for a number of ventures after TMA. In an interview with EdScoop, she said “even though we’re a law-themed school, we don’t turn out a bunch of lawyers. It’s all about exposing students to different career paths.”