Empowering STEM dreams within Latino communitiesOctober 10, 2023
As part of its Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, ComEd is taking proactive steps to create excitement among Latino students for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The company hosted a day-long STEM Lab program that welcomed 75 Latino high school students from across Chicagoland and northern Illinois. The workshop engaged students in hands-on activities to a soundtrack of Cumbia and reggaeton music inside ComEd’s Chicago North facility. The event offered memorable takeaways and, upon completion, each student received a $250 scholarship.
This interactive session was designed to pique students’ interest in the practical applications of science and showcase how STEM can be accessible and fun. One of the highlights of the day was when students learned how to craft their own batteries using everyday household items. Attendees also had the opportunity to build their own Bluetooth speakers during the workshop.
Diversity in a Lab
Guiding the students through their STEM activities was Dr. Kate Biberdorf, a renowned author, chemist and science educator, along with ComEd mentors. Students felt inspired as they enthusiastically networked with similar motivated peers.
“I love the feeling of solving math problems,” said Melanie L., one of the many students who participated at ComEd’s STEM Lab event. “I really think there should be more diversity in STEM and more women in this field — I was truly inspired hearing all the mentors’ journeys. It not only motivates me, but I am more determined to move forward with a STEM career,” added Melanie.
Fernando A. was similarly excited about the workshop. He said, “Ever since fifth or sixth grade, I looked into robotics, and I was very interested in the subject. I always told myself that if I ever have a chance to do robotics, I’ll jump in and take the opportunity. When I heard of ComEd’s STEM Lab program, I had no doubt in my mind that I wanted to participate. I really like it here, the community and the atmosphere.” Fernando’s journey illustrates how the right opportunities can ignite a lifelong passion for science and technology.
Mentors as Guiding Lights
Hector Fundora, IT principal project manager at Exelon and a member of the Organization of Latinos at Exelon (OLE) employee resource group — participated in the event because he wanted to help high school students see how the STEM field is fun and interesting. “I give back to the community by sharing my time and my background to inspire others,” said Hector. “Being a mentor provided me the ability to sharpen my leadership skills while inspiring students to achieve their life goals after high school. It also reconnected me to my past and how far I have gone from when my parents, brothers, and I first came to Chicago from Cuba.”
Being a mentor is more than being a trusted, experienced individual who gives guidance and support, they also share their personal challenges and development to help inspire others. ComEd’s mentors served as role models who offered valuable insights, advice and encouragement to help students grow and develop their dreams in STEM.
“Being an electrical engineer has given me the opportunity to work in different industries and on diverse projects, collaborate with professionals from various domains, and continuously grow in my career,” said Adelina Mejia, manager of regional engineering at ComEd. “It is a field that offers endless possibilities and the chance to make a meaningful impact in people’s life.” Adelina was also excited about the opportunity to share her passion with students. “Participating in STEM events gives me the opportunity to inspire, educate and empower students in their STEM pursuits, while facilitating connections and mentorship opportunities that can help them navigate their paths toward successful STEM careers.”
ComEd’s Promise to STEM
ComEd’s STEM Labs workshops are just part of the company’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of STEM leaders in underrepresented student groups, such as Latino communities. Initiatives like these help bridge the gap and foster a diverse and innovative future in STEM fields. ComEd looks forward to seeing the lasting impact of these experiences on these young minds and the contributions they will make to the fields of science and technology.
Students, parents and educators who are interested in learning about upcoming ComEd STEM youth programs can sign up to receive our newsletter at STEMsignUp.com/ComEd.