Tag: Cal State Long Beach

Girls From Displaced Families Get Introduction to College and Engineering at Cal State Long Beach

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Courtney Shumate, 10, of Compton, is spending a week living at Cal State Long Beach, learning about college life and engineering. Twenty-nine girls participated in the program August 8, 2013, in Long Beach. During this workshop, the participants built prosthetic arms. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times / August 7, 2013)

Submerged underwater, a robot built out of PVC pipes snaked back and forth near some foam “sea sponges.”  Next to the small wading pool, 11-year-old Nailah Lewis intently worked a set of controls on top of a wired plastic box. Her electrical engineering experiment had entered its final testing phase.  The task: Design a tool to pick up objects underwater.  Around the pool, a group of young girls leaned over the edge, dangling their hands in the water and shouting encouragement. Nailah’s 8-year-old sister, Ayailah, called out: “Come on, Ni Ni!”

Watching proudly nearby with a camera in hand was Nailah’s mother, Dana Lewis, 39, who is determined to see her both young daughters go to college.  She found a positive motivating force in a new Cal State Long Beach program.  The program, “Engineering Girls — It Takes a Village,” is unusual in its focus on recruiting young girls, ages 9 to 15, from displaced families.  Over the last four months, school officials worked with the Century Villages at Cabrillo, a transitional housing community, to recruit girls and bring them to the university in August for one week of engineering workshops.

Officials said that the program, which began Aug. 5 and ended Sunday, was specifically designed for girls because the engineering field is dominated by men. But coordinators also aimed to expose an underrepresented community with limited opportunities in science, math and engineering.  It came along with a full taste of college life, with the girls sleeping in the dorms and eating three all-you-can-eat meals a day.

Of the 29 girls who participated, 25 came from homeless families. All were African American, and most lived in single-parent homes.  Three were being raised by their grandparents.  “A lot of these girls are underprivileged, so an experience like this not only changes and impacts their lives, but re-creates their future,” said Lewis, who was one of several women who accompanied their daughters and participated in the program. Lewis moved into the Villages with her mother and two daughters when it opened five years ago.

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