'Stars to Docs' encourages Black youth to consider STEM careers

Blacks make up only 9% of the labor workforce known as STEM, short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, according to the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

In an effort to increase those numbers, a local nonprofit called Stars to Docs is making a charge to get more Black youth involved in STEM.

Dr. Nathaniel Evans II, founder of Stars to Docs, said the foundation to prepare a child for STEM starts in elementary or middle school.

“If a child does not get algebra, for example, by the time he or she finishes high school, they are not going to be a doctor,” he said. “There are certain foundational requirements for becoming a physician.”

The organization will host workshops at the Friends Select School in Center City on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event is catered for students in 7th through 10th grade and their parents. The goal is to help students gain resources and a network of professionals in STEM and like-minded students.

“I think through this event students and parents will get resources,” said Germyce Williams, founder and CEO of Black and Brown Pre-Med Academy. “For instance, Khan Academy, connections to medical students and physicians. They are going to see what they can be, and they are also going to get resources to fill in the gap of what they may be missing in the classroom.”

Williams is also assistant director of recruitment and retention at Drexel University and is one of a number of professionals from the STEM field speaking at the event to help inspire Black youth and their parents.

“Stars to Docs was formed largely because we came to realize that the foundation for becoming a doctor and entering into a high-level position requires science,” Evans said.

He hopes to use Saturday as a building block toward helping other Black doctors across the country to build programs like Stars to Docs and help increase Black and Latino youth participation in STEM.

A lot of Black youth are very interested in pursuing a career in medicine or another STEM fields, said Dr. Keneolisa Ogamba, a 2024 graduate of Temple University Medical School and a scheduled speaker at Saturday’s event.

“But (they) really are wondering how, and I think this program is going to provide that,” he said.

STEM is a growing field that can open up economic opportunities for all involved, according to Evans and Williams. Getting more Black youth involved in the field can help create generational wealth for underrepresented communities.

“Personally, I believe that our lives depend on it,” Williams said. “This is all about the health outcomes and survival of our people. We need physicians who look like us. Who are culturally competent. It’s extremely important.”

From The Philadelphia Tribune