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Opening Up the STEM World to Girls of Color

Only 4% of engineers in the US are black or Latina women. Yamilée Touissant Beach is on a mission to help minority girls get excited about a future in STEM careers.

“You can say anything about me, but you can’t take away my education,” she shares. “It’s only fair that we make that accessible to all students.”

Video Transcript

Yamilée Touissant Beach: I’m driven by fairness. I felt so empowered when I had my engineering degree. You can say anything about me, but you can’t take away my education. To me, it’s only fair that we make that accessible to all students.

Black and Latina women make up only 4% of America’s engineers.

STEM From Dance is an organization where we are getting girls excited about a future in the STEM careers. Dance gives us an awesome opportunity to put STEM in a different light, sort of shake the stereotype of what it means to be a scientist or an engineer — that it can be creative, it can be expressive, it can be fun. We do that through a summer program called Girls Rise Up, as well as school residencies throughout the school year. We come with a dance instructor, a STEM instructor, who partner together to help the girls create a dance performance that involves STEM in some kind of way.

When I dance, I feel it from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I feel the music, I feel the experience, I can feel what I want to do next. And I think there’s something about that that’s really empowering.

Thinking about my experience in STEM and dance, how can I take what I have learned and what I’ve been given and offer it to those who may not have access? That’s what led me to start STEM From Dance. Our goal is to counteract all of the negative messages, the negative stereotypes that are against our girls of color when it comes to STEM, with all these positive, encouraging messages about what they’re capable of, about who they are, about the people around them that will support them.

Student: I am proud of what I have achieved.

Group: I am proud of what I have achieved.

Student: And each day, I am becoming more confident, determined, and focused.

Group: And each day, I am becoming more confident, determined, and focused.

Yamilée: I think we should all be passionate about finding ways to get that least likely student to have access to this path that is fulfilling, it’s exciting, it’s secure, it’s lucrative. All students should have access to that. And that’s why I do what I do.

Speaker 1: Drum roll. Strength and confidence.

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