NASA’s STEM program at York College is making a difference — York College/CUNY


Recently, several NASA STEM program alumni have found themselves in major STEM disciplines and their degrees have been accepted by reputable universities such as Georgia Institute of Technology, CUNY Sophie Davis Medical School, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, Hofstra University, Northeastern University, etc.

Sol De Leon (currently a pre-med student at Hunter College majoring in Computer Science and Chemistry (Biochemistry) with a minor in Mathematics, graduating in 2023. Corresponding with the “Genomics & Computational Biology Graduate Group at University of Pennsylvania, Summer Program 2022 The acceptance letter read, “On behalf of the Penn IDEAL Research Summer Undergraduate Internship Program (SUIP) Admissions Committee, we are delighted to offer you the opportunity to join the 2022 Class of SUIP Internships in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. . Out of more than 700 applications, your commitment to science, from your classroom work to your research experience, indicates your potential for success and is one of the qualities we look for in our scientific community. We are excited to welcome you to Penn and the great city of Philadelphia to gain the experience necessary for your long-term educational and career goals in the bi sciences. omedical.

Dr. Nazrul Khandaker, professor of geology and director of the MAA program at York College, conducted a longitudinal survey of former MAA graduates and contacted many students. The outcome of the survey was very successful as several participants responded and provided candid evaluations of the program highlighting its effectiveness in serving minorities and also preparing them to enter reputable colleges for higher education. The NASA-funded (free) program recently celebrated its 30,000 graduation milestone and benefited from corporate partnerships supported by AT&T, ConEdison and National Grid. Being in southeast Queens, it primarily serves an underrepresented student body and allows students to earn STEM hours on Saturdays (fall and spring) and summer. Students are exposed to basic math and science, engineering design, rocketry, aerospace-related activities, robotics, programming, and coding.

Sol De Leon’s Reflection on NASA’s STEM Program

Question: How has MAA motivated you to pursue STEM or prepared you to take on challenging STEM opportunities?

To respond: Being a student at SEMAA is one of my earliest memories of exposure to science. Being surrounded by flight simulation, planetary science, robotics, and rocketry labs at an early age got me excited about STEM. I fondly remember walking towards the grassy area of ​​the York campus, waiting with great anticipation to send my rocket into the air. I remember building hot air balloons out of tissue paper and many “failed missions” but good attempts to land an airplane in the AEL lab. While I was TA at MAA, I decided I wanted to seriously pursue computer science as a field of study. MAA made science accessible and fun and showed me real-world applications and the meaningful impact STEM can bring.

Question: What advice do you want to give to students, especially Latino/Latina?

To respond: Seize every opportunity that crosses your path. Don’t wait until later in your education or career to get involved in enrichment programs; it is CRUCIAL to start now. If you have so much inclination towards a particular field, research programs in that field. There are many organizations willing to take students under their wing to teach them something, you need to be proactive in their search. Make sure your winter; summer and spring break are all about doing an activity, improving your skills, or learning something new. If you are interested in these activities early on, it will be much easier for you to find the next opportunity and another and another. Remember that every student in your school studies for the lessons, what sets you apart is that you study for the lessons AND the experiences and skills you bring to the table.

My second piece of advice is to keep in touch with people who have supported you, these people can become valuable mentors who bring years of experience and know the industry well. Mentors are an important part of growth; you can learn from the experiences of others and gain a new perspective on the areas you receive advice from and they can even connect you to valuable resources specific to your professional interest.

Violeta Escandon (a freshman in chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology becomes one of the recipients of the prestigious A. James Clark Scholars Awards (JCSA). Georgia Tech’s JCSA program is dedicated to creating engineers from the future.

Violeta also made Dean’s List in Fall 2021. At Georgia Tech, students are exposed to cutting-edge academic research programs and thought leaders in business and entrepreneurship. However, it also goes beyond academics – students gain experience and knowledge through hands-on learning and solving real-life problems.

Violeta Escandon Correa is originally from Bogota, Colombia and moved to Queens, New York when she was 8 years old. She attended the engineering academy at the Higher School of Construction, Engineering and Architecture Trades and placed third in her class. She was also part of the National Honor Society and was captain of the varsity volleyball team. Violeta has performed over 250 community services, serving her school with fundraisers, volunteering at JumpsStart Tutoring, supporting staff members at summer camps, and assisting patients at Determination Physical Therapy. She has presented published research to the Geological Society of America and conducted her own research as part of York College’s Summer Research Program. She also participated in the NASA MUREP Aerospace Academy program, where she built and coded a remote control car from scratch. In her spare time, Violeta exercises, cooks and explores with friends.

Isaiah Jamna’s Reflections (Accepted to Sophie Davis School of Medicine and NYU at CUNY)

Question: How has MAA motivated you to pursue STEM or prepared you to take on challenging STEM opportunities?

To respond: Having myself been a student in the MAA program during my elementary school years, I was exposed to the different fields of study that involve the fundamental concepts of STEM. Being in the MAA program from the first year sparked my interest in science, which stayed with me throughout middle school and high school. During high school, I became particularly interested in biological and health sciences due to both academic and personal circumstances. As an MAA student, I had engaged in collaborative STEM activities, which I enjoyed, which motivated me to pursue such opportunities outside of the curriculum. I had joined after-school clubs that offered the same experiences as MAA, which maintained the same STEM concepts that I was academically inclined to. Later, in high school, I took the opportunity to pursue a career in science by applying to the Sophie Davis Health Professions Mentorship Program, a pipeline program hosted by CUNY School of Medicine. This program embodied the mission of the MAA program, which is to provide STEM learning opportunities for its students. Being accepted into the mentorship program gave me the opportunity to learn about the rigor of STEM career fields and allowed me to explore my STEM interests in terms of pursuing a profession in the sciences. Due to my acceptance into the BS/MD program at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, I am eternally grateful for the experiences and influences with which MAA raised me. Having served as a volunteer teacher’s aide at the MAA throughout my high school years, I have personally seen the impact STEM learning opportunities can have on young students and older students looking to find the right post-secondary path for them. Because of the impact the MAA program has had on me, I am honored to be able to help fulfill MAA’s mission to provide the same STEM learning opportunities that I have had.

Question: What advice would you like to give to students, especially underserved minorities?

To respond: My advice to students from underserved socio-economic backgrounds is to get started. You can’t always predict when certain opportunities will come your way, so it’s important to act on any given chance that can propel you forward, whether academically or in other extracurricular activities. It is possible to gain recognition for achievement outside of academics; however, it’s up to you if you want to pursue them. It’s worth staying engaged in whatever activities you’re involved in, as it could open up better opportunities for you in the future. As students, you can pursue your interests and get a head start by joining mentorship programs, finding internship opportunities, and finding volunteer and employment opportunities. It’s something I did and I’m sure it gave me an edge over the others I had to compete against in order to get the opportunities that were given to me. For older students, standing out also means that you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with your different interests if you’re unsure of the path you want to follow in your post-secondary life. As long as you are active in the face of any ambiguity in your choices, you are doing something that moves you forward. For students, at all times in their university life, it is very important that you build and maintain yourself within a community of people with the same motivation and passion as you. Having a network of like-minded people keeps you from falling behind in a position that keeps you from knowing how to move forward. I did it for myself, and it was very beneficial to me, and that’s something I attribute to the opportunities I was given.


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