BridgeUP STEM brunch

BridgeUP STEM Graduates Second Cohort

BridgeUP STEM at Georgia Tech graduated its second cohort of high school girls and non-binary students earlier this month.

The program is a partnership between Georgia Tech’s Constellations Center for Equity in Computing and the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT). BridgeUP STEM is dedicated to fostering the active engagement of individuals from historically marginalized groups. 

Throughout the one-year program, participants build essential technical and research skills focused on emerging computing fields while developing close friendships with a diverse community of peers from the metro Atlanta area. 

The program begins with a four-week intensive summer coding course designed to give students a strong foundation. Then, during the academic year, they meet twice a week to apply the skills learned in the summer to a research project facilitated by female faculty in the College of Computing.

“The most impactful experience is learning new things with new people. I feel a sense of belonging with them because we’re all learning the same thing, and even though our experiences and backgrounds are different in some cases, it still made the learning process feel like a safe space,” said Raven Lewis from North Atlanta High School.

This year's cohort chose projects to address social justice issues faced by marginalized communities. They covered an array of topics, from literacy concerns in K-12 education to women of color having access to STEM careers. They showcased their technical proficiency and demonstrated a profound commitment to creating positive change in the world around them.

“Working with this group of young women has been truly inspiring. I got to see them apply the things they learned to address the issues their projects covered; I was there to overhear the discussions they had. The conversations not only showed their understanding of the concepts but the need for them in STEM spaces,” said Chanteal Edwards, BridgeUP STEM’s program manager.

The graduation event highlights the importance of programs that provide access and opportunity to those underrepresented in STEM. BridgeUP STEM provides new experiences and perspectives to girls and non-binary individuals and can potentially change the trajectory of their lives.

“When I started, I didn’t really have an interest or a focus toward college, but now that I’ve experienced this program and learning with other people I don’t normally hang around, it makes me think I could have a career in the computer science field. Learning from my peers and people around me made it real,” said Shanniya Roberson from Global Impact Academy.

In the BridgeUP STEM program, students are mentored by NCWIT Helen Fellows. These fellows provide support by explaining concepts covered during instruction, serving as the crucial female representation that assures students there is a place for them in computer science, and fostering a safe environment where students feel acknowledged and valued.

“These programs that you will join and be a part of create a network. Fill your network with people who you see yourself in and those are the people who will take you where you want to go,” said Elizabeth “Ellie” Salisbury, NCWIT Helen Fellow.