Columbia Urban League concludes 2012 Summer Work Experience Leadership Program

The Columbia Urban League hosted its final 2012 Summer Work Experience Leadership Program (SWELP) and Youth Development Academy (YDA) Student and Parent orientation on Wednesday, July 18 at The University of South Carolina’s (USC) Moore School of Business.

Kim Bowman, CEO of South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics (GSSM) Foundation and Executive Vice President of Strategic Direction of the Governor’s School, was the guest speaker for the SWELP and YDA orientation. This orientation is important in enhancing parents’ awareness of the significance of STEM which will empower them in helping their children to select STEM courses. USNews noted there is an increase in income for graduates who specialized in STEM disciplines versus those in other fields.

Mrs. Bowman discussed the critical role GSSM plays in preparing students for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers of the future. Also, she discussed outreach initiatives at the Governor’s School to increase diversity.

The Columbia Urban League, through its Summer Work Youth initiatives, has focused on exposing youth to work ethics and connecting them to STEM careers. James T. McLawhorn, President and CEO of the Columbia Urban League, said “We are excited about Mrs. Bowman’s and the Governor’s School outreach efforts to educate the community about STEM and to increase diversity at the Governor’s School. According to Forbes, ‘The National Academy of Engineering says that the remedy to our STEM skills shortage must include a focus on attracting minorities, as it will increase the number of trained personnel and help to meet the needs of the competitive global marketplace.’”

Their efforts and aspirations are echoed nationally. Rodney C. Adkins, senior vice president of IBM’s Systems & Technology Group explained, “As we look to the future, improving the size and the composition of the STEM education pipeline will strengthen our country’s global competitiveness and unleash new innovations that will propel society forward. Yes, STEM-related education can be challenging at times, but it can also be inspiring. Let’s encourage the next generation to study STEM by teaching them that the technology that surrounds their daily lives is not just for their consumption, it is for them to create and build upon. It will be their innovations that eradicate disease, improve the environment, and power a brighter future.”

Adkins, a National Academy of Engineering inductee and national board member of the Smithsonian Institution goes on, “There is no doubt that to advance our economy and our society we need to create the next great technology innovations, not just consume them. That’s why there is such urgency for the U.S. to develop a stronger workforce of experts in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). After all, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, only 5% of U.S. workers are employed in fields related to science and engineering, yet they are responsible for more than 50% of our sustained economic expansion.”

For more information on the local Columbia Urban League’s efforts to meet these critical needs, contact Ms. Morgan Smalls at (803) 799-8150 ext. 122.