Elevating the math skills of students, one summer session at a time, Queens College Alumni Association New York, completed its second QC Math Institute for more than 40 students from six schools, to help the youth develop their adeptness towards STEM accomplishment.
The students learned integrated mathematics at the QC Campus in Georgetown, Guyana, and had the opportunity to interact with Guyanese professionals on career options, during the two-week program that included educational field trips.
The enrichment course was geared towards high school students already performing at a higher level in math, but who needed to be challenged in their critical thinking, said President of the QC Alumni Association New York, Karen Wharton, who facilitated the program with Dean of the School of Science and Health Technology at Medgar Evers College, Dr. Terrance Blackman and other alumni.
Wharton, a Boston University educated engineer, told this publication at the QC campus, recently, that the institute was set up to engage high school students in mathematical sciences, not regularly covered in the High School curricula, and to motivate the students to excel in the subject.
“We want to give kids options. They are not limited to being lawyers and doctors, they could make a contribution in other careers said Wharton, noting, that students at the 4th Form level would have already decided what career path they wanted to take.
Wharton said she feels a connection to her alma mater and is always excited to return to inspire students, and to provide them with access to learning.
“I was privileged to get a sound education while growing up in Guyana, and fortunate to have attended one of the most resource schools. This is why I am obligated to reach back and help students who may not have the same opportunity I had,” added Wharton.
Fifty percent of the students were drawn from Queens College, while others came from Bishops High, St. Stanislaus College, Christ Church Secondary, St. George’s High School, and Tutorial High, based on their academic excellence.
Wharton, a software engineer, said she encourages girls to surround themselves with people who will inspire them to pursue whatever career path the choose — after she was somewhat questioned about choosing a career that is male dominated.
“Aim higher, and follow your dreams. People who march to their own drum are leaders,” she told the students.
Dr. Surendra Persaud, chairman of the National Insurance Scheme, engaged the students during a presentation, and later stated that it was important to assist the younger generation who were missing elements to guide them towards a successful future.
“Students are not getting the guidance, either from the family structure, or the community we benefited from growing up,” said Dr. Persaud, who applauded Wharton and Blackman, for essentially creating a structure to give back, and to have an impact on the children which bodes well for Guyana.
Dr. Blackman said the QC Guyana Math Institute aims to design, develop and sustainably implement a developmentally appropriate and culturally resonant high school learning environment, that engages Guyanese students in a cognitively rich mathematics learning experience that affirms and aligns with their cultural social identities and places them securely on pathways to STEM excellence.
The program, he said integrates mathematics, related field trips and career talks delivered by Guyanese professionals.
The institute, he added, is to attract high school students in Guyana to mathematical sciences and to motivate them to excel in the subject.
The areas introduced high school students and parents in Guyana to the notion of mathematics as theory; and to sensitize students and their parents to careers linked with mathematics, whether as mathematicians, mathematics educators, scientists, computer scientists, economists or business leaders, said Dr. Blackman.
“I take the time every year to set aside two weeks to make a contribution. These young people are very talented. I am happy to make an essential contribution to their development, often missed in our national curricula. We want to motivate the next generation of Guyanese scientifically,” he added.