Georgia teen defying the odds as future STEM professional

COVER SUBJECT | TGeorgia teen defying the odds as future STEM professional

STEM, or STEAM, education is an important part of the learning experience for students of all ages. As it continues to gain momentum in schools across the U.S., students are exposed to science, technology, engineering, arts and math in a way that inspires innovation and problem-solving skills not only in the classroom, but also in everyday experiences.

With National STEM Day (November 8) approaching, I’d like to share the story of a Georgia student who is defying the odds when it comes to pursuing a passion in STEM. Since 2000, the number of African American students earning STEM degrees has continued to decrease , but 10th grader Zuriel Johnson is hoping to help reverse that trend. Zuriel, who has a passion for science and math, is currently pursuing his high school degree online through Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA), powered by K12. Zuriel chose virtual education for the opportunity to learn at his own pace and take on a more challenging curriculum through GCA’s Advanced Learner Program.

In addition to his regular course load, Zuriel also attends SMASH Academy at Morehouse College, a three-year STEM-intensive residential college prep program that empowers students to explore their talents and inspire professional development experience. SMASH Academy motivates underrepresented students with rigorous STEM educational curriculum, culturally relevant coursework and access to resources that allow them to navigate their way to a successful career in tech and entrepreneurship. The students are coached and mentored by instructors who share similar backgrounds and represent the future they can have if they choose to pursue a STEM profession.