Creating Visibility and Supportive Campus Environments for Native American Students

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The American Indian College Fund explored how to support higher education’s role in creating safe and welcoming environments and greater visibility for American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) students at a convening it hosted of students, tribal college leaders and leaders from mainstream institutions of higher education (IHE), policy organizations and funders.

What we heard affirmed what we already knew — for Native students to be successful in college the institution must be committed to their inclusion.

Native students shared they want to go to college in an environment where their unique tribal identities are recognized, where their history and current lives are included in the curriculum and in campus life, and where they are visible.

Supporting education equity for Native students takes many forms. Native students at tribal colleges and mainstream institutions have benefited from Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s support of access to higher education through scholarships. The American Indian College Fund works to expand student support to specific ways that higher education institutions can be proactive with inclusion.

Four specific approaches were identified that can have an immediate impact on the experiences of Native students with higher education:

  1. Land acknowledgment: All higher education institutions exist on land that once served as the homeland of one or more tribal nations. Westward expansion, war and removal all impacted the abilities of tribes to situate themselves or have claims on homelands. When land acknowledgment occurs, Native students’ existence and experience is validated. I’ve learned that it is also a good educational exercise because most people don’t know whose homelands they are living on.

2. Representation in curriculum, at events and functions and in public materials: The history and contemporary experiences of indigenous peoples are usually not represented in curriculum. In addition, many times Native peoples are not onstage or giving presentations and are rarely included in public-facing places like websites and brochures. IHE can examine and modify curriculum to insure inclusion. For example, any American government class that doesn’t include tribal governments as a form of governance in the U.S. should immediately remedy that. When events are organized and representatives of various populations are invited to participate, inclusion of Native speakers should be automatically considered and materials and media should be reviewed to determine if Native student photos and stories are included.

3. Data inclusion: Ensuring the institution’s leadership knows the status of Native students is critical to success, whether it is one student or 400. Often the numbers are used as an excuse for not knowing the status of Native students and for not reporting that status to the public and to enrolled students. This may require extra effort to define who will be included in that population and what reporting will look like, but it is essential to overcoming invisibility.

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American Indian College Fund Publishes Report on Higher Education Equity Initiative for Native Americans

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Last spring after a parent attending a college tour called campus police with concerns about two Native Americans in the group, the American Indian College Fund knew it had to respond.

The College Fund convened a group of national higher education experts and Native students to address the social issues Native Americans face on campus.

Today the College Fund published Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education, the report from that convening, as a tool for higher education institutions to advance the visibility of Native American students at their institutions and to ensure that Native history, achievements, and perspectives are respected.

Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education highlights steps institutions can take with recruiting, financial aid, student orientation, recognition of Native lands, curriculum creation, establishment of meeting places for Native people, work with local tribes, and more.

The report was crafted at the Indigenous Higher Education Equity Initiative (IHEEI) in Denver, Colorado in August 2018, hosted by the College Fund in cooperation with leadership from Colorado State University. Leadership, faculty, and staff from tribal colleges and universities; public and private mainstream colleges and universities; non-profit organizations; education foundations, institutes, and associations; and Native college students created a scalable plan for higher education institutions to make college campuses safer and more welcoming to Native people.

Currently American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN) face a college access and completion crisis. Only 14% of AIAN people age 25 and older have a college degree–less than half of that of other groups in the United States. The College Fund believes that colleges and universities can use the Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education report as a guide, helping them to make campuses welcoming spaces for Native students. These efforts, along with financial access to college and tools for academic and social success, can increase the number of Native Americans with a college degree, resulting in increased opportunities for graduates, their families, and communities.

To download your copy of Creating Visibility and Healthy Learning Environments for Native Americans in Higher Education, please visit our website. You can also request a printed copy by sending an email- this will be on the main site.

About the American Indian College Fund
Founded in 1989, the American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 30 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided 5,896 scholarships last year totaling $7.65 million to American Indian students, with more than 131,000 scholarships and community support totaling over $200 million since its inception.

The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers.

The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit collegefund.org

5 Reasons to Consider a STEM Major

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By Erin Fox

As you begin to investigate what major you should pursue, you might find yourself drawn to a STEM major. STEM majors are diverse, challenging, and offer a wide array of opportunities. From to biochemists to ocean engineers and meteorologists to applied mathematicians, colleges are preparing students in these programs for future work in exciting careers.

There are many reasons to choose a STEM major.

  • Graduates have flexibility within their profession to pursue multiple career paths
  • Average starting compensation outpaces careers in other fields
  • High level of personal and job satisfaction
  • Graduates make a positive contribution to society. Most importantly? Once students have finished their education, career opportunities abound.

Graduates can look forward to:

  1. Future Opportunities
    Pursuing a STEM major will allow you a wide variety of future opportunities after graduation. For example, pursuing an engineering major opens many doors; a graduate can seek a career in such diverse fields as chemical engineering, computer science, or environmental science. A meteorology major can seek work in a variety of venues – graduates may work in a research capacity for a private company, such as Boeing, while others may pursue work for a government entity, such as NASA or NOAA. Some may choose to work in television broadcasting.
  1. Flexibility
    There are many different areas of specialization within any STEM major. When a student graduates with a strong undergraduate degree, she is preparing herself for any future changes in her chosen field. It is impossible to predict what the future holds. Consider Aerospace Engineering – from day one, students are immersed in hands-on opportunities, such as thermal energy, mechatronics, and rocket propulsion. These experiences not only prepare students for the current workforce but also give them the tools and skills necessary to help evolve their field of study far into the future.
  1. Compensation
    STEM careers are among the highest in initial compensation for recent graduates. According to the American Engineering Association, these graduates earn 87 percent more than the average salary of a non-STEM graduate. Specifically, the average starting salary for mechanical engineering graduates is $58,392 and computer scientists start, on average, at $61,205.
  1. Job and Personal Satisfaction
    Career Cast, an online employment site dedicated to targeted job information, published a list of the Top 10 Best Jobs based on job satisfaction. Based on their research, 8 of the top 10 jobs were within STEM fields. Included in this list are software engineer, mathematician, statistician, computer systems analyst, meteorologist, and biologist.
  1. Societal Impact
    Everyday life is constantly affected by professionals from STEM programs. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics play a role in everything from creating new ways to promote aquaculture to the design of a bridge by a civil engineer. Being on the cusp of modern technology and using a STEM education benefits the world and has an important impact on both local, national, and global matters.

Many universities are proud of their world class education offered in all of their STEM programs. These programs have been developed to not only properly educate but also strategically prepare graduates for the future workforce. Considering an undergraduate degree in a STEM area of study not only meets a student’s current educational needs but will also help shape his future career and contributions.

Source: adastra.fit.edu

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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Latino Education News

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

Is college the only path? Picking the education that’s best for you

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Is college the best choice for you?

For generations, high school students like you have been told that a college degree is the route to success and financial security. But it’s not the only way to go: in fact, while it may seem like all your friends are heading off to college, a large number of high school graduates—about 30 percent—don’t take the college path.

Finding happiness and success in your career should start with evaluating your goals, personality and interests because—luckily—you have options.

With costs rising, college can be a huge investment, and like any good investment you need to understand the risk, costs and potential value you can gain. Explore these higher education paths—and some tips for calculating the return on investment (ROI) of your education:

Depending on your course of study, a vocational training program can pay for itself within eight months of graduation—far quicker than a four-year degree. Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

A four-year college:

A four-year college degree is the most common—and one of the most lucrative—routes to take after high school. But even with a four-year degree, much of your ROI depends on what you choose to study: before picking a major, think about how much money you’ll need to fork over and the salary you can expect after you graduate.

Many online tools or apps, like the JA Build Your Future app from Junior Achievement USA, or College Scorecard from the US Department of Education, can give you a good idea of the ROI on your college degree. They factor in average debt, starting salary information, and more, and work with community colleges, as well as four-year colleges and universities.

  • Tuition: According to the College Board, the total in-state cost of attendance at a public four-year college averages $25,290 per year. At a private, nonprofit university, the cost is almost double that—$50,900 annually. That means the overall price tag is roughly $100,000-$200,000. Not surprisingly, 65 percent of college grads earning four-year degrees in 2017 ended up with student loans; their average amount of college debt topped $29,650.
  • Salary: The upside of paying higher tuition at a four-year school is that you’ll likely end up making more money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median earnings for college grads with a four-year college degree is $61,724 annually. And salaries can go even higher, depending on the career you choose. People with advanced degrees typically earn bigger salaries—$1,512 weekly, or $78,624 yearly. Then again, advanced degrees also translate into extra tuition—another cost that you’ll need to factor into your ROI calculation. To avoid that extra cost, consider a bachelor’s degree with high earning potential for recent graduates like chemical or electrical engineering, which report salaries in the $70,000 – $75,000 range for recent grads.

Community college:

The National Center on Education Statistics shows that almost twice as many people attend two-year community colleges as those who attend four-year colleges and universities. At a community college, you can earn an associate’s degree after taking coursework in a general major—like business, biology, or communications—or in a specific vocational field, like nursing, criminal justice, or early childhood education. This coursework can prepare you for a bunch of careers, including medical assistant, police officer, oil and gas operator, or software or website developer.

  • Tuition: Community colleges are usually a lot less expensive than four-year schools: according to the College Board the total cost of attendance at a public, two-year community college averages $17,580 per year for in-district commuter students. That includes tuition, fees, room and board, books, supplies, and transportation costs. Overall, that works out to $35,160 for a two-year associate’s degree. That’s about $66,000 less than what you would spend on in-state tuition and fees at a four-year public college.
  • Salary: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people with a two-year degree earn a median salary of $825 a week or $42,900 annually. And while this salary might limit your ability to live in some quickly growing cities, there are a number of cities where you can live comfortably on less than 50,000 per year.
  • For some jobs requiring a two-year degree, the payoff is even higher. Air traffic controllers make a median income of $122,410, while dental hygienists average $72,910 and paralegals make $49,500.

Vocational training:

Vocational training, sometimes called technical training programs or trade schools, might be a good option if you prefer working with your hands, want to avoid a desk job, and only want to take training and instruction that is directly related to your future career. These programs commonly lead students into careers in hands-on trades like construction, metal work, masonry, and photography.

  • Tuition: The average cost for a vocational training program is $33,000 over a two year period, but many students can complete their vocational schooling in less than two years—especially those that enroll full-time in a trade school.
  • Salary: Salaries for hands-on trades vary widely, but jobs like installation, maintenance, and repair have median earnings of $950 a week, or $49,400 annually. With that kind of salary, your vocational training will pay for itself in just 8 months after your work start date.

Continue onto JP Morgan Chase to read the complete article.

One-Year or Two-Year MBA: Is There a Simple Answer?

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latino college students

There are now literally hundreds of MBA programs available worldwide. Evaluating an MBA today is roughly the equivalent of talking about a car—one needs more specific details to really understand how one program compares to another.

In the same way that there is often little in common between a small sports car and a large SUV, MBA programs come in many variations. Indeed, there are many comparative factors to consider, including a program’s standing in global rankings, academic design, specializations, entry requirements, delivery mode, or, most relevant to this discussion, its duration.

MBAs have become diversified products, catering to segmented clientele’s needs. Upon exploring whether a two-year MBA program is superior to a one-year program, there is, unfortunately, no simple answer to suit all circumstances.

Internships and career changes

The first argument in support of a two-year MBA program pertains to the job market. Even within a two-year program, students are under pressure, as they juggle academics with career-prep workshops. Most programs begin in August and employers arrive on campus as early as September to recruit, both for summer internships and full-time jobs. Many students say that they are unsure of the field in which they wish to specialize, yet are asked to commit to a job search within a chosen industry almost immediately.

In a two-year MBA program, this issue is actually less problematic. Students complete internships first and are then provided with additional opportunities to engage with employers the following autumn. Moreover, some students accept full-time jobs with the same employer, usually during the last two weeks of their summer internship. Most remain in the same industry, but move laterally to a different employer and/or to a different job category. Finally, some realize that the chosen industry was not for them and move to a different one altogether, typically seeking a different field of specialization in their MBA. Given the duration of the program, students will have one more round of campus recruitment and a full eight months of courses left, making such transitions possible and easy to make. We have found that students enter the next round of recruitment better prepared, more aware of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their goals and aspirations.

A two-year MBA program allows more time to build a strong foundation

The second argument in support of a two-year MBA program relates to academics. To acquire in-depth knowledge, one needs time flexibility to build their schedule, as well as to digest and integrate content. While knowledge can often be acquired relatively quickly, developing competency requires more time. One needs to read, apply the material, build presentations, study, write exams, and experience the use of the material in real life.

One aspect that most professors will likely agree on is that the faster one is forced to learn something, the faster this material will be forgotten. A two-year MBA program allows more time to build a strong foundation, as well as to consider and select options within a given field. More time allows for more informed choices, and more informed choices translate to a more adapted education.

The third and final strength of a two-year MBA program is its resilience to errors. Students may not be aware of the different choices that exist in management education or on the management job market. If a student begins his or her studies in marketing and either struggles academically or lacks interest, there is time to reorient. As mentioned previously, if a student completes an internship and does not appreciate the practical aspects of a field, there is still time to change direction. Finally, it is also noteworthy to mention that a key advantage of an MBA is the networking opportunities that it brings. However, it can be more challenging to build lasting relationships over a more condensed period of time.

Value of one-year vs. two-year MBA may hinge on your circumstances

To summarize, the value of a two-year MBA program over a shorter one is essentially a matter of “it depends.” As a rule of thumb, the more removed an applicant is from the world of management at the time of admission, the more he or she should contemplate the two-year degree. The strength of a two-year program is the additional time that it affords to build expertise, explore the job market, and validate both academic and career choices. In my opinion, ideal candidates for such a program would be international students, as well as those seeking a career change, such as engineers, lawyers, teachers, artists and others who are interested in a management career and/or in relocating to a different country.

However, the closer one is to the world of management, the stronger the argument in favor of a one-year MBA. Those looking to move up in their career are the target clientele. Career climbers are less likely to feel the need to acquire knowledge of the job market, or to build strong foundations in management. Thus, students who meet this profile will likely be well-served by a one-year degree. This is why, after all, MBA programs of varying durations exist in the first place, as they are built to adapt to different clienteles and their respective needs.

Nevertheless, as the saying goes, the proof is often in the pudding. Indeed, this is probably the strongest argument of all: When given a choice to go faster, our well-informed students choose to take more time!

Author-Steve Fortin

3 Tips for Filling Out Applications for College Financial Aid

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College students and parents are already looking ahead to the 2019—2020 school year with the FAFSA- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The great news is that the Department of Education just launched “myStudentAid” app to make it easier for students and families to fill out the federal student aid application through their mobile phones.

According to the National College Access Network, only 61 percent of high school students file a FAFSA, leaving more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid on the table. Completion of the FAFSA form is one of the best predictors of whether a high school senior will go on to college, as seniors who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.

For the 2019-2010 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens on October 1st and the sooner students file, the better as some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis or from programs with limited funds.

Furthermore, students should look beyond federal student aid as scholarships are a great way to pay for college, and unlike loans they don’t need to be repaid. But winning scholarships takes time, dedication, intensive research, and hard work, especially on the essays. It’s deadline time for college applications, so it’s important to start the application for free money now!

Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) offers access to 7 million scholarships and $41 billion in financial aid. Start by filling in the registration; then with a click, the site searches to find any scholarships for which you might qualify. The more information you provide about yourself, the more matches TFS can make.

Richard Sorensen suggests these tips when applying for financial aid and scholarships:

Tip No. 1: Apply through FAFSA mobile app

The FAFSA mobile app is very simple to use as it asks one question on each page and after answering the question the student goes to the next page and the next question. The student can leave and return to the app as often as they want so it can be completed in several different sittings over a period of time.

Some students don’t apply because they mistakenly think the FAFSA is only for students with financial aid. That’s not accurate, families should know that income is not the only factor used to determine the financial aid they can get. It also depends on the number of children in a family and how many are enrolled in college at the same time.

Tip No. 2: Follow the steps carefully

Even though the FAFSA mobile app is generally easy to use, pay attention to the signature process, because both parents and dependent students are required to sign before the application can be processed. Never tap to “Start Over” button when including a parent signature as this will erase all previous information. And if you need to add a school, click “New Search” not “Next” which moves students to the next question.

Tip No. 3: Submit scholarship applications early

Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

At TFS undergraduate and graduates can search for scholarships that fit their interest. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships that are the best match for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

TFS has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

Orphan to Leader

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Dan Esterly

Being both young and Hispanic can feel daunting in America. Adversity can create obstacles and discourage young Hispanics from dreaming large. However, some young Hispanic-Americans are shattering the status quo. One of those people is Dan Esterly.

If you’re from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you may be familiar with Esterly’s work. At the age of 28, he is a business owner, Ph.D. student, radio host, and is heavily involved in Pittsburgh’s non-profit community. Esterly wasn’t always a success story. He was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and was given a two-day life expectancy from malnourishment at the orphanage. Despite the pessimistic health outlook, he was adopted and was raised in Pittsburgh. Esterly also battled depression and alcoholism in his young adult life.

After much adversity, Esterly was able to rise above the initial cards he was dealt. He entered the workforce at the age of 13, started college at the age of 16, and began graduate school at the age of 21. In 2008, Esterly saw an opportunity to start actively buying stocks. He was able to outperform most financial professionals and was sought after to advise financial professionals. Esterly stated, “My first experiences in consulting were accidental. A fund manager from Boston called me for input, simply from word-of-mouth from the Pittsburgh business community. I was truly flattered and stunned, because of how young I was.”

Esterly went on to earn an M.S. in Professional Counseling and an MBA in Healthcare Management. He attributes his education to building the foundation for his business in consulting. “I needed to master both fields to thrive. Business has various human elements, and counseling has a lot to teach us about organizations. The same principles that apply to group behavior also enhance an organization’s well-being.”

Esterly then went on to work as a lobbyist in biotechnology. One of his projects raised more than $34 million from the federal government to fund drug research. Regardless of his occupation, Esterly has always focused on increasing financial value for companies.

In 2016, Esterly decided to diversify his business. He founded Public Waves, LLC, which eventually became a successful consulting venture. “I have had clients from Texas to Pennsylvania. It’s truly been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my entire life.” Currently, Public Waves, LLC serves clientele including the Energy Innovation Center Institute, Community Liver Alliance, Water4Life Mozambique, and CSD Engineers, LLC. He provides consulting services ranging from workforce development & economic research to other organizational services.

Esterly also is a full-time doctoral student at Point Park University’s Ph.D. program in Community Engagement. “It’s somewhat of a leadership degree with a research focus on benefiting the community. The Pittsburgh community helped me to succeed and I am constantly looking for ways to give back.” He hosts a radio show through Point Park University, called Behavior Business, where he invites guests on the show from both the business and mental health community. Esterly also continues to self-manage his portfolio and consult on other larger investment portfolios.

In 2015, Esterly established a charitable investment fund called Esterly Fund. To date, the fund supports 17 non-profits in Pittsburgh. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Glade Run Foundation and Ten Thousand Villages Pittsburgh. “I truly don’t think my life would have turned out this way in Honduras. It’s surreal sometimes to think of my journey and how different things could have been. I am grateful for every day on this earth and hope to give back ten-fold.” Esterly is considered a young rising star in the Pittsburgh business community.

At the age of 28, Esterly insists he has only just begun. “It’s been my experience that businesses don’t care what race, nationality, age, etc. you are. If you can provide value for a company, companies will value your service. That’s the beautiful thing about America. You really can create or re-create your life here.”

 

ADP Foundation Awards Grant For Mujeres De Hace Program

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The ADP Foundation Provides Grant to HACE’s Latina Women’s Leadership Program

The Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement will bestow multiple scholarships with grant to expand the women’s leadership program in new key cities.

Latina professionals will have greater access to the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement’s (HACE) women’s leadership program, thanks to a grant received from the ADP® Foundation. Many women who would otherwise be unable to afford the full tuition for the program will be able to benefit from full or partial scholarships in the fall. “The scholarships awarded will be instrumental in achieving a bigger reach in newer markets we have expanded to, such as Atlanta and San Francisco,” says Laurin Bello, HACE Program Manager, “the support ADP has given us makes them an invaluable partner for HACE as they continue to help us reach Latina professionals.”

The Mujeres de HACE program, a leadership program designed to help high-potential Latina professionals grow and develop in their careers, has successfully graduated over 800 women. The grant will allow HACE to serve 15-30 additional Latina professionals across the U.S., including Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Minneapolis, MN; McLean, VA; New York, NY; San Francisco, CA and Miami, FL.

“HACE would like to thank the ADP Foundation for their generous support,” said Patricia Mota, HACE President and CEO. “On average, Latinas are reported to earn 55 cents to the dollar compared to their Caucasian male counterparts, that is at least 20 cents below Caucasian women. Furthermore, Latina professionals are constantly balancing traditional cultural norms with workplace norms, which simultaneously creates unique opportunities and barriers to advancement.  With this grant, HACE will be able to impact the lives of more Latina professionals across the country, helping to close the wage and opportunity gaps that ultimately hurt our communities and the overall economy.”

Mujeres de HACE has proven to help close the wage and opportunity gaps, with over 80% of women reporting a raise, promotion or both within a year of participating in the program. After completing the program, many women join leadership boards, fundraise for program scholarships to support other women and even start their own businesses.

Continue onto HACE Online to read the complete article.

10 Latinas Making Their Mark in the STEM World

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As the job market rapidly changes, STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – skills have become increasingly valuable. These careers are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying, yet Latinas only account for 3 percent of the industry.

Believing that lucrative STEM fields can pull low-income communities of color out of poverty and instill young girls and women with financial independence, groups across the nation have emerged to pique the interest, educate and mentor Latinas in STEM. In Miami, CODeLLA offers Latinas between the ages of 8 and 12 an eight-week tech entrepreneurship and coding immersion program. In Chicago, Latina Girls Code hosts workshops and hackathons that teach brown girls and teens technology languages and entrepreneurial skills. In Los Angeles, DIY Girls provides underserved female youth, 97 percent of them Latina, from fourth to eighth grade with after-school classes and summer programs where they build prototypes of products that can improve a problem in their community. Even Eva Longoria, whose master’s thesis from Cal State Northridge focused on Latinas in STEM careers, started TECHNOLOchicas, a nationwide campaign to increase visibility of brown women in these fields and educate Latino families of the opportunities STEM can provide their girls.

While STEM outreach programs are doing great and necessary work, the reality for women of color in tech or engineering isn’t as alluring as it’s made out to be. Women make up almost half of all STEM graduates, though just 3.5 percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in STEM fields in 2010 went to Latinas, yet they account for less than a quarter of all graduates in the 20 highest-paying STEM jobs. In contrast, they make up the majority, two-thirds, of the 20 lowest-paying gigs. For those who manage to get fat paychecks, many face almost everyday instances of discrimination and microaggressions, from sexual harassment to painful double standards. The problem is twofold for women of color, who face gender and racial/ethnic biases. In fact, a study by UC Hastings College of Law published in 2015 found that 46.9 percent of Latina scientists reported that they had been mistaken for administrative or custodial staff.

Despite all the odds, there are several Latinas in STEM breaking glass ceilings, solving major scientific problems, creating innovative products that save lives, and creating programs for young Latinas that ensure the presence of women of color in science, technology, engineering and math isn’t as modest in the next generation. Here are 10 Latina engineers, physicists, techies, and STEM activists kicking ass in fields they’re widely underrepresented in.

1. Sabrina González Pasterski

The world’s “next Albert Einstein” is a cubana from Chicago – at least that’s how Harvard University describes Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski. At just 24 years old, the physicist has a résumé that even veterans of her field can’t match. Gonzalez Pasterski, who’s a doctoral student at the ivy league studying high energy physics, started showing signs that she’d break barriers in 2003, back when the then-10-year-old started taking flying lessons. Three years later, she started to build her first kit aircraft. By 2008, it was considered airworthy.

These days, Gonzalez Pasterski, who studies black holes and spacetime, particularly trying to explain gravity within the context of quantum mechanics, has been cited by the likes of Stephen Hawking and Andrew Strominger, been offered jobs by NASA and Blue Origin, an aerospace research and development company Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos also started. She’s also received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to support her work.

2. Laura I. Gomez

Mexicana Laura I. Gomez is one of the leading ladies in tech. At 17, when the formerly undocumented immigrant first obtained a work permit, she took an internship with Hewlett-Packard. Seeing no one like her in the workplace, she instantly wanted out. However, she decided to stay in the field after her mother, who saw a lucrative career for Gomez in tech, encouraged her to stay. Gomez would go on to work as one of the only Latinas at Google and YouTube, and then she became a founding member of Twitter’s international team, where she led Twitter en Español.

Being underrepresented in the tech world and experiencing discrimination, Gomez decided to do something about it, founding (and acting as CEO of) Atipica in 2015. It’s a recruiting software start-up that uses artificial and human intelligence to help companies make bias-free decisions when hiring employees.

3. Nicole Hernandez Hammer

Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a sea-level researcher and environmental justice activist who educates and mobilizes the Latino community to understand and address the ways in which climate change negatively impacts them. The Guatemalan-Cuban advocate speaks from personal experience as well as academic knowledge. When Hernandez Hammer was four years old, she and her family moved from Guatemala to South Florida. There, she learned firsthand about the effect of rising sea levels.

During Hurricane Andrew, when she was 15 years old, her house – much like the homes of other Latino families near coastal shore lines – was destroyed. She felt “obligated” to learn more about the issue, and went on to study biology and the natural sciences. Hernandez Hammer was the assistant director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University, authoring several papers on sea level rise projections, before moving into advocacy. She served as the Florida field manager for Moms Clean Air Force and is now a climate science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In 2015, she was former first lady Michelle Obama’s guest at the State of the Union Address.

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