Career countdown, STEM week blasts off

Molecular demonstrations, infographic posters and slideshow presentations packed the Great Hall as guest speakers engaged with students during Pierce’s first STEM week.

STEM week gave students an opportunity to ask questions and connect with professionals in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics from Feb. 22 to 23.

Counselor Lily Duong said she began working in October to bring the panel together for the opportunity to give students insight into the “real world of the STEM industries.”

One of the guests at the event was Officer Jinha Kim of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). She said LAPD is actively looking to recruit new members. According to Kim, LAPD begins an academy course every four weeks. With many officers retiring soon, Kim said the LAPD wants to keep their numbers full.

“We are definitely looking for more female officers, officers in the African American community and Asian Pacific Islanders. Those are the areas we are underrepresented within the department,” Kim said.

Professor Nazaret Dermendjian, department chair of Civil Engineering and Construction Management at Cal. State Northridge, emphasized the idea that the world is so virtually connected that many believe there is no need for physical communication skills.

“Put the damn phones down and talk to each other, for goodness sake,” Dermendjian said.

According to Tracie Dean Ponder, the founder and executive director of B-STEM, people still need to engage in the real world despite an increase in virtual communication. She also spoke about the importance of creating links with people who share the same interests.

Neftali Aguilera, the president of the Society for Professional Hispanic Engineers, encouraged students to push past failure, just as he had done.

“You just need to look and understand that failure is nothing to be ashamed of,” Aguilera said. “No matter if you aren’t proficient in a certain STEM field, there is always something out there.”

Jean-Carlo Palacios works through the Center for Community College Partnerships at the University of California, Los Angeles, and said that there should be a demand from students entering STEM, regardless of its complexity.

“I want to be able to have students be more enthused about getting into a field that is difficult because of the challenges that it provides and obviously, the academic rewards that it can give you,” Palacios said.

Palacios said he hopes to inspire students considering a career in STEM.