Yesterday, Young Leaders Society (YLS) members joined 75 low-income fifth, sixth and seventh grade students from our Manor Summer Program to host the Texas Alliance for Minorities in Engineering (TAME) “Trailblazer”—the only interactive museum-on-wheels in Texas. YLSers in STEM careers connected to eager middle schoolers learning fundamental concepts in that arena.
One of these dedicated YLSers was Jesse Garcia, who is in the Engineering Rotation Program at Freescale, for whom the effort struck home.
“I grew up in a low income neighborhood where everyone was expected to find a job after highschool and people didn’t really talk about college,” explained Jesse. “I was lucky to have a 4th grade teacher who pulled me aside one day to talk to me about engineering and how he thought I’d be a good engineer. From that point forward, it became my goal. I want to bring the same experience to other kids so that hopefully they can find their own goal and hopefully spend their days doing something that’s not a “job” because they love it. I guess I feel like I owe it to the community to pay that forward.”
Jesse first got involved with YLS because Kara Birge told him it was a group focused on helping middle school students. “When I asked her how, she said I had to come to find out. Seeing the speakers there made me want to come volunteer, so I signeed up for the next project. It was a great experience so I kept coming back.”
Here’s more of Jesse’s inspiring story:
“YLS is a group that wouldn’t normally have interacted (we are engineers, bankers, community relations people etc) but through YLS we’re coming together for a common goal.”
– Jesse Garcia
What’s been your favorite part of your efforts?
Working with the students and seeing them get inspired. I did a garden project at Webb Middle School and brought an OmniPod I was working on for my job and seeing their interest and the questions they asked was really cool. That and being a role model for the kids.
What surprised you the most about the kids, the work or anything in general in your relationship with UWATX?
What surprised me the most about the students was their willingness to learn.
What surprised me the most about YLS was that it’s a group of people with very different backgrounds, yet we’re all interested in helping our community. YLS is a group that wouldn’t normally have interacted (we are engineers, bankers, community relations people etc) but through YLS we’re coming together for a common goal.
What volunteer activities have you been involved with? What moved you most?
I have helped build benches with the Decker Middle School students for their Community Learning Garden, worked the Dove Springs Community Health Fair at Mendez MS, volunteered at the St. Johns Food Distribution Center with the Webb VPL students and helped build the Webb MS garden.
The Trailblazer bus was another great opportunity to help the students understand how a subject they like studying (for example, meteorology) can be turned into a career. I’m also excited about the Decker Summer Camp in general.
As a kid I remember I always wanted to do camps but there wasn’t that opportunity, so instead I played outside most of the summer. I remember coming back to school in the fall actually feeling dumber, the learning slide was a real thing. Which is why I love that we’re involved in supporting the students over the summer.