I recently visited the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy (SMASH), a program run by the Level Playing Field Institute. The program works with high achieving, low-income high school students of color.
SMASH scholars spend five weeks each summer on one of four California college campuses immersed in rigorous STEM classes. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, four fields of study in which people of color are underrepresented. The participants take courses such as Physics, Math, and Computer Science as well as prepare for college and beyond.
While there, I was impressed by a student who passionately stated that he wants to go to college to pursue engineering and wanted to see more people who look like him in that field. I had lunch with another impressive student who is in her third summer with SMASH. When I asked her what she wanted to study in college, she casually stated ‘data science’. I certainly did not have that kind of insight or imagination when I was 17!