San Diego Community Host Panel on Preparing Black Youth for STEM-Careers

(San Diego, CA) Community members in Southeastern San Diego, are on a mission to make sure that Black youth are exposed to STEM based careers.

The educational event held at Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, is just one out of a series of events hosted by long time community activist/education advocate, Philip Liburd and son Marcus, alumni of Preuss School, UCSD. The father and son team are responsible for handling all of the details for the event including the venue, scheduling guest speakers, food, design of the glossy textured paper program outlining the agenda, which included-with statistics that lists the highest starting wages for college majors, and estimated salaries in engineering & technology fields.

It’s important to note that according to Pew Research Center, Blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented in STEM jobs, relative to their presence in the overall U.S. workforce.

The purpose and vision of the informal community dialogue is to restore technical training for youth in middle and high schools.  In addition, to accelerate the accessibility to rapidly changing technologies and innovative career options for students and families in areas of San Diego, especially in Southeastern San Diego.

Two professionals from San Diego based tech giant Qualcomm Inc., were apart of the informal panel discussion: Ron Pierce, Director of Operations, and Michael Alston, Staff Engineer. Both men shared traditional and non traditional paths to careers in STEM. Also on hand to share his experiences and path to success in the tech field was Anthony Haile, Jr., Engineer at SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific.

Other esteemed guests included:  Michelle Gray, Dean of Business and Information Technology (SDCCD), Kevin Alvin (Business Manager IBEW Local 569), Dominique Waltower (Program Manager Inspire Careers & Jacobs Center) Lisa Evans (Elementary School Teacher),  Gwen Chamberlain (Educator), Aqueel El-Amin (Poet Laureate) and Starla Lewis (San Diego Mesa College Professor).

Graduating high school senior from Lincoln High School Karlesha (Karly)Van Holten, a Aaron Price Fellows recipient, was accepted into 34 colleges and with offers still coming in, shared key relationships and activities that prepared her for college, including having a positive experience with her middle school counselor. Van Holten’s well rounded extra-curricular activities include—Cheer, Varsity Basketball, La Crosse, Tennis and Painting, all of which she says has helped her to stand out to college recruiters. Her love for painting has tapped into the young scholars entrepreneurial side, as she now uses her art skills to sell black art. 

Van Holten, who hasn’t quite decided on a major, but is leaning towards pre-psychology, says that she’s having an acceptance reveal party.  So, we’ll just have to wait to see which institution she decides to goes with. She has plenty of options. 

Liburd, the coordinator of the series of community dialogues invites the community to come out to join the conversation on the following upcoming topics:

Thursday May 31st 2018, from 5:00 to 7:30pm, Jacobs Center-Access to the Performing Arts and Music for Artists of Color. (Final of the community dialogue) 

Thursday July 12, 2018, from 4:30 to 7:00pm, Community Tribute/Celebration for retiring Educators (2nd annual). (Location TBA) 

September/October 2018, welcome back Educators, special welcome for new teachers. (Date and location TBA) 

The event was sponsored by: UC San Diego Create, State Farm Insurance Agent, Sabrina Dixon, San Diego Math Network,,, and

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