The National Anthem played quietly in the background as a light shone upon the American Flag, swaying gracefully in the air. Suddenly, an announcement, “Introducing Barack Obama, President of the United States of America” rang through the crowd. A thunderous applause broke the stillness as the crowd jumped eagerly to their feet to greet the POTUS.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a small movement, and then the curtain opened up to reveal none other than Mr. President himself. My face broke out into a huge smile as I began bouncing in excitement of seeing the President in real life!! His face shone brilliantly as he walked in, waving to greet the room. Next thing you know, he was near walking past me. “It’s now or never,” I told myself as I extended my hand in an attempt to catch his. One second later, a firm grasp met my hand. “Glad to meet you,” said President Obama. And then, I fainted.
Just kidding. That actually only happened in my dreams. LOL!
Although I didn’t get to meet President Barack Obama, at the US2020 STEM Mentoring Symposium I did have the chance to hear from and meet some outstanding individuals in the STEM mentoring space. US2020 is an organization launched by the White House in 2013 to change the trajectory of STEM education in America by dramatically scaling the number of STEM professionals engaged in high-quality STEM mentoring with youth. With sponsors such as Tata Consultancy Services and Chevron, 150 academics, government officials, nonprofit leaders, and corporate sponsors were brought together from around the nation to discuss topics pertinent to increasing the diversity of the next generation of STEM professionals. As you may imagine, this symposium’s unique focus on mentoring as a relevant strategy was right up our ally!
We were greeted with a warm welcome from Kumar Garg, Assistant Director of Learning and Innovation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Then, we were joined by Megan Smith, the Chef Technology Officer of the United States! Megan was extremely down to earth, and reminded us that “the Internet is just us, connecting,” that “we aren’t verticals, the universe doesn’t separate subjects,” and that our role is to “instill deep confidence” into the youth of tomorrow.
We were then briefed by government officials from the OSTP— Ruthe Farmer, Senior Advisor fo