Correction: A previous version of this brief mistakenly listed Guillory as a student at the University of Chicago.
- University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign industrial engineering student Sydney Guillory, who also hosts the UL Xplorlabs online module, writes for eSchool News that she was inspired to become an engineer after a childhood trip to Disney World — but it took extensive exploration for her to figure out exactly how she wanted to achieve that goal.
- Guillory writes that she was lucky enough that her parents sought every opportunity to feed her interest in engineering through meetings with current engineers, summer camps and information sought online.
- To boost student interest in STEM fields, especially among females and students of color, Guillory writes that educators must expose students to STEM as early and often as possible — and she adds that students must make a point of building a support system and maintaining perspective on their end goal throughout the journey.
Guillory's story illustrates how events that inspire lifelong passions for fields in STEM, and even beyond, tend to come at unexpected times and places. Understanding this is critical for educators to help foster those students and guide them onto the right path to achieve their goals.
For students of color and females in STEM, however, this is particularly important, as many of the available role models they might see in those fields on a regular basis are predominately white and male. Videoconferencing tools have made it easier for schools to connect classrooms to a diverse array of professionals, and educators can also help by making families aware of community makerspaces, summer camps and other opportunities.
For students whose families may not have the resources to send them to a camp or extracurricular workshop, administrators can also look to the community to raise funds via donations from local businesses and organizations, or from special school-sponsored events like dances or bake sales.