Area engineer pays it forward

Staff Report

   Nationally, there is a big push to get more women and minority students engaged in these professional and educational fields due to their severe underrepresentation. This was one of the driving factors that led to the spearheading of the pilot mentoring project at Gonzales Middle School in the Spring of 2014 called STEM GEMS.

The mission of STEM GEMS is to promote the interest of Girls Excelling in Math and Science through mentoring and encouraging them to pursue careers and advanced degrees in STEM fields of study. STEM GEMS is designed to help girls develop talents and interests that they have in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through projects, shadowing and collaborations.

Founded by area engineer and scientist, Alsie Dunbar, a lifelong resident of Ascension parish, the STEM GEMS Mentoring Pilot Project has worked with Dr. Patrice Pujol (Superintendent of Schools for Ascension Parish) and the Ascension Parish School Board to mentor young girls that are identified as high achievers in Math in Science.

To date, Dunbar has mentored over 50 girls with a high level of success at Gonzales Primary, Gonzales Middle, Donaldsonville High School and Bright Futures Community Learning Center. Due to the overwhelming success of this program in it's first year, Dunbar will continue her work this fall at Gonzales Primary School, working with Jaimee Williams and Amy Champagne at Pecan Grove Primary throughout the academic school year where she will be working with local physicians and dentists who also have the same passion for STEM in the the second year of this mentoring effort.

Outisde of in-school workshops, Dunbar also hosts STEM GEMS Saturdays at various schools in the Gonzales. The most recent STEM GEM Saturday was held at Pecan Grove Primary on Aug. 29 where the Motiva Convent Chapter of La WAVE engaged several students in STEM related activities.