ComEd Employee Helps Student Pursue Career in STEMNovember 30, 2021
Leah Davis, a freshman at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), met a mentor in the summer of 2020 that changed the course of her life. Born in Chicago but raised in Atlanta, Leah participated in the UIC CHANCE STEM Academy program the summer before her senior year and met ComEd’s Maya Garcia.
A West Pullman native, Maya Garcia began her career working at ComEd as a new business project engineer and now serves as a senior corporate relations specialist. Maya, also a graduate of UIC, had the privilege of mentoring Leah while working with UIC CHANCE STEM Academy and leading the ComEd Scholars program, which provides financial support to students from UIC, Illinois Tech and DePaul College Prep who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM.
“I remember being in school, pursuing my engineering degree, and being one of the only women of color in my specified classes made it especially challenging,” said Maya. “It’s such a hard field when you’re going through school and feeling like you are alone. I want to make it easier for the next generation and be the vessel that leads them to new opportunities.”
Maya has always understood the challenges persistent in the STEM field and has made it a priority to help students like Leah pursue careers in STEM. Maya and Leah developed a strong relationship, as Maya helped Leah navigate her last year of high school and first year of college as a woman of color in a historically underrepresented field.
Most recently, Leah declared civil engineering as her major, which was also Maya’s major. “I reinforced to Leah to never let anyone put you in a box. I encouraged Leah to pursue her passion and to not shy away from challenges that will allow you to grow,” said Maya.
This past spring, Leah had the opportunity to intern with ComEd’s smart grid/reliability team. “I don’t know if I would have had these opportunities without ComEd or Maya’s mentorship,” said Leah. “It has been really fun and exciting to see the work ComEd is doing to help educate people of color.” Just this month, Leah was selected as a UIC ComEd Scholar and recognized for her academic achievements and curiosity and passion for the STEM field.
Maya and Leah still stay in close touch and their relationship illustrates one of the many ways ComEd and its employees are empowering the next generation of STEM leaders.