Nassau, The Bahamas)…The Commonwealth of The Bahamas is being positioned to lead the region in STEM careers within the next few years, now that American-based Rocket Fuel “Gives Back” and Millennium Engineering and Integration have joined local pioneers in producing a successful summer camp.
The camp was organized by STEMBoard FounderAisha Bowe, a rocket scientist who was the first Bahamian woman to work with NASA and Trenicka Rolle, a Bahamian engineer. The camp was held on the campus of the College of The Bahamas and attended by students aged 11 to 14.
While the majority of local camps are focused on arts, faith or sports, the Bahamas Engineering and Technical Advancement Camp (BETA Camp) is the first of its kind in a nation where careers in tourism are predominantly encouraged. However, the group was met with open arms at several major media houses to discuss the importance of instilling STEM in youth.
Organizers also had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call on Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, widow of the first Prime Minister of The Bahamas Sir Lynden Pindling, who now serves as Governor General.
Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology endorsed the program during a courtesy call at his office and further pledged to support BETA’s endeavors during a public forum.
“Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills are crucial to developing the global workforce of the future,” STEMBoard co-founder and CEO Aisha Bowe noted. “BETA Camp succeeded in exciting 72 of tomorrow’s leaders and innovators about STEM. Not only did we significantly exceed our enrollment goal, participants insisted that we expand the camp next year. We also were given the opportunity to explain what we were doing on a national platform. We had parents telling us their kids brought them out of bed to sign up but we simply were not able to accommodate them this year because initially, we only had provisions for 60 students. With the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology’s backing and the generous support of our sponsors, we are already working to host even more youngsters, to meet the demand."
“What a way to spend a weekend in paradise!” exclaimed host of BET’s Lift Every Voice Derek ‘Fonzworth Bentley’ Watkins, who supported the camp on behalf of the Fonzworth Bentley Leadership Institute.
A graduate of Morehouse College with a degree in Biology, he worked as a researcher in a genetics lab. In addition to lecturing on professionalism and etiquette, he took time to inspire students during a book signing for his Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence, and Style to Get Ahead. Each student received an autographed copy of his book.
“Nothing makes me feel better than to see a light bulb go off in the heads of young people,” he added. “BETA Camp not only did that, but it exposed them to things that most students at their age don't get an opportunity to experience.”
Bowe pointed out that Rocket Fuel “Gives Back” took the helm as the key sponsor which enabled the students to attend a camp that could cost individuals at least $500 to attend, free of charge.
“Rocket Fuel demonstrates a genuine passion for our vision of creating an educated, healthy and safe world by engaging in targeted volunteer work and strategic grant-making both nationally and globally,” said Kiwoba Allaire, Founder of Rocket Fuel “Gives Back” who journeyed to The Bahamas from Silicon Valley to see firsthand how receptive students were. “Working with BETA Camp complements our current initiatives, which focus on breaking the cycle of poverty and homelessness, as well as STEM education for underserved youth.”
Millennium Engineering and Integration, a veteran owned company also provided sponsorship to ensure the camp’s success.
“We were excited to be a part of promoting STEM skills with the BETA consortium in partnership with STEMBoard,” said Sue Hall, co-founder and board member of the organization. “Millennium participates in broad set of STEM outreach programs in an effort to promote these critical skills for a global workforce.”