Carson to speak at Gonzales Primary

Leslie D. Rose @Editor_Citizen
15-year-old Alyssa Carson.

In 2033, Alyssa Carson has plans to go to Mars, but in the more near future, the 15-year-old will talk STEM with students at Gonzales Primary. 

The program is being sponsored by STEM GEMS founder - engineer and scientist - Alsie Dunbar, who said that she wants such young children to engage with the future astronaut because there is no particular age that is too early to pursue dreams.

"I had Alyssa come last year to talk with the STEM GEMS," Dunbar said. "It's the highlight of the year for them. It's something that has been an expectation for them. They think that it's really cool to have an astronaut that is so young to come and talk to them." 

Nationally, there is a big push to get more women and minority students engaged in STEM professional and educational fields due to underrepresentation.  

It's why Dunbar said she started her STEM GEMS program, and why she pushes the objective of engaging that audience - Carson is just lagniappe. 

"My hope is that this program can become a signature staple for the students of Ascension Parish," Dunbar said. "My sincere hope is that it will encourage more minority female students to become engineers and doctors."

But Dunbar doesn't work alone. She said she receives lots of community support. 

"I have gotten donations and overwhelming support from the city of Gonzales and the Ascension Parish School Board for this mentoring effort,' she said. "I am in the process of forming a non profit for scholarships and funding to continue the program. I received my first donation from Gonzales Police Chief Sherman Jackson which was a really confidence booster for me. From there, my friend and local principal Jaimee Williams asked me to mentor her fifth grade girls and then things just soared from there.

Their confidence in my ideas and this project mean a lot to me. After that Dr. Patrice Pujol personally asked me to work with APSB to reach more students. All I ask is that the citizens of Ascension continue to support STEM GEMS."

Carson will speak and give a scientific presentation for students at Gonzales Primary on Jan. 14 Dunbar will sponsor several more events featuring Carson over the next few weeks in other Parish schools.