It’s no secret that the need for more minorities in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is greater than ever with African Americans and Hispanics making up just 6.4 percent and 6.5 percent of the STEM workforce, respectively. With power players, such as civil rights activists Rev. Jesse Jackson, making it a top priority to bring more inclusion to Silicon Valley, many young leaders in the industry are working within their local communities to get the STEM conversation going early for the next generation of innovators.
With a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a current Ph.D. candidate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Connecticut, Keshia Ashe is making it her duty to address the lack of minority representation in STEM. She, along with Tiffany St. Bernard, who is a Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. student at Cornell University, have joined forces to create the nonprofit ManyMentors in an effort to inspire, encourage and support minority student interest in STEM.
“Our goal is to increase diversity of the STEM fields and thereby increase the availability of innovative solutions and products for everyone,” Ashe tells BlackEnterprise.com.
As a young professional herself, the University of Virginia alum understands the needs of today’s younger generation and uses ManyMentors to implement fun and innovative ways for young leaders to learn.
“ManyMentors speaks the language of this generation — pop culture, technology, apps, and social media,” says Ashe. “It’s an organization co-founded and run by individuals who aim to merge traditional mentoring programs with ‘mentoring in the modern age’ through the use of social media, online learning tools and digital communication.”
Based in Connecticut, ManyMentors works primarily with high school students for its online mentoring program and middle school and elementary school students for its in-person workshops. Recently, with assistance from the United Technologies Corporation, STARBASE-CT and the University of Connecticut student chapter, ManyMentors has developed a series of “Medicine of the Future” workshops geared towards teaching elementary school students in East Hartford, CT about scientific methods, research designs and product creations.
With plans to expand ManyMentors reach in the coming years through their campus ambassador program and partnerships with STEM professionals, Ashe has created a team of like-minded individuals who are also dedicated to closing the industry’s diversity gap.
Joseph Bonivel, Ph.D, who serves as the organization’s director of corporate relations, says that joining Ashe and ManyMentors was an easy choice for him.
“Her resolve and foresight into ‘mentoring the modern age’ evoked my interest in the organization,” says Bonivel, who works as a Senior Research Engineer for the Physical Sciences department at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) in Connecticut.
Bonivel, who owned his own nonprofit, Helping Our People Out (HOPE) in Florida, says he understands the positive impact programs such as ManyMentors has on young people, and credits much of his success to the great mentors he’s had in his life.
“Without mentors, I can unequivocally say I would not be the man I am today,” says Bonivel.
To learn more about many mentors and how you can be a part of the organization visit www.manymentors.org.