The Interview with Bill Allan and Emily Shamieh
Latino STEM Alliance (LSA) inspires and empowers underserved youth from all backgrounds to achieve educational and career success in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Karen Brody met recently with Bill Allan and Emily Shamieh to talk about the work they are doing to further the mission of LSA.
Please tell us about yourselves and the roles you play at LSA.
Bill Allan: I was formerly on the Board of LSA and am currently serving as the Interim Executive Director, while LSA searches for a new ED. I am very involved with a variety of non-profit organizations after working in the high tech field for 30 years.
Emily Shamieh: I am a long-time LSA Board Member and former ED with a background in education; I was formerly the Principal at a Boston city elementary school. While working in the education field, I saw a need for further STEM opportunities for kids in the Boston area.
What populations does LSA serve? Can you share a “success” story?
Emily: LSA partners with schools, private industry, community groups, and academia to bring STEM to underserved youth who would otherwise not have such an opportunity. We feel very strongly about leveling the playing field for kids in Boston, Lawrence, and Haverhill. These are cities with large Latino populations, though all kids, regardless of race, are welcome to participate in the programs we provide. LSA is unique in non-profit space in that it focuses on cities, not specific schools.
We want kids to be able to see themselves as potential engineers. What is most gratifying about working with LSA is to see how kids who participate in LSA programs progress through their education and their later professional experiences. We get to witness this progress directly and via student testimonials through which we hear about how our programs have changed the students’ views of what options are available to them. One student who participated in our programs had had no pre-K or K education and struggled academically, including the need to repeat eighth grade. Flashing forward, we were delighted to learn that this student, who participated in LSA’s programs, went on to receive a Master’s degree from Northeastern and now works in the healthcare field on artificial intelligence.
Apart from seeing the daily impact you have with students, what are you excited about?
We are extremely excited about having just received a total of $50,000 in grants from NBC10 Boston, Telemundo Boston, NECN, and the NBC Universal Foundation as part of the first annual Project Innovation grant challenge. We were selected by the stations for our program’s capacity to leverage technology to solve everyday problems in the areas of civic engagement, skills for the digital economy, and STEM/STEAM youth programming.
We also have a big event on the horizon: the 2018 Annual Robotics Competition and Family Science Festival, which will be held on Saturday, May 19 from 10 am to 2 pm at the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex in Roxbury. We invite TPC members to join us for a fun day of watching our future scientists compete with one another as well as to meet and encourage some of their mentors. We also invite you to participate by serving as judges or helping with other event activities. You don’t need a degree from MIT, just a willing, enthusiastic spirt.
What has TPC’s funding helped you to do? Is there something else we might be able to help with?
TPC’s funding has allowed LSA to expand our full program offering to two additional schools. We are also beginning to pilot our programs in elementary schools. The programs at the elementary level aim to foster learning and connections in different fields of study at the same time.
We are also in the midst of a search for a new ED as well as additional Board members. We would greatly appreciate TPC member input as we fill these important positions.