Forty high school students from the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic spent a full afternoon touring AT&T’s Global Network Operations Center in Bedminster meeting employees who work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers to get a firsthand look at STEM careers.
Students learned about future college and career opportunities by visiting the largest and most sophisticated command-and-control center of its kind in the world.
“We help students in New Jersey and around the country prepare for college and careers – and help them discover their passions and potential,” J. Michael Schweder, president of AT&T Mid Atlantic, said on Tuesday. “The Boys & Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic shares these goals. Together with the team at the club, the students’ families and community leaders, we can prepare the next generation of innovators and business leaders right here in New Jersey.”
Schweder said the tour is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature philanthropic initiative to drive innovation in education through funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring. Through the initiative the telecom company plans to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017. It has already spent $250 million, according to the company.
Students also received words of encouragement to pursue careers in STEM from two state legislators who represent Paterson in the New Jersey Assembly.
“Programs like this one, which include opportunities for students to hear from New Jerseyans in STEM careers, give students a look into what’s possible when they stay in school and remain focused on learning,” Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter said.
“As an educator, coach, parent, and lawmaker, I see the importance of education from several different angles. When the private sector teams up with groups like the Boys & Girls Club, Paterson’s kids win. I hope our students leave today inspired and better prepared for their future success,” Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly said.
Wendy Schwamb, chief development and marketing officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic, said getting young people introduced to STEM concepts better prepares them to excel at technology tools that are key to many of today’s careers.
“The program’s goal is to get youngsters interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics early on so that they enter college and graduate college to become scientists, engineers, and mathematicians,” Schwamb said.
One famous former club member is pushing hard to get young people from the inner city interested in STEM careers. Football star Victor Cruz of the New York Giants through his foundation has made it his mission to expose young people to technology early on in life through hands on projects.
“Our goal is to increase the number of underrepresented kids’ interest in career fields related to STEM, while simultaneously promoting positive change in the lives of youth today through innovative educational programs,” Cruz said.