How My Life Experiences Lead to Fundraising for STEM Learning

“I looked up at the Moon. It was no longer a distant, unknowable orb but a place where people walked, talked, worked and even slept. At that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”

Chris Hadfield

This is how the first ISS Canadian Commander Col. Hadfield envisioned his passage through space, immediately finding the reason for his life and the reason for his efforts. In the same way, my heart and my spirit have been captivated to learn about science in my life. It’s incredible how my life experiences have defined a path for me as a fundraiser for STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning about this cause and encouraging children and youth involved with it. The experiences I have had fundraising for this cause have lead me to appreciate the role and potential of young people in science and as agents of change for their community. It has been a wonderful revelation that will influence my whole existence. Young people are indeed the catalysts for change and improvement in our societies because they are leaders of the future.

“To understand the universe is to understand what our role is within it.” Other meaningful Col. Hadfield’s reflexion really explains why I started fundraising for STEM. I always had a penchant for Sciences. Biology, Technology, Chemistry; they were exciting subjects in my teen days. This passion reached its summit when I became an Engineer in the area of Agronomy. Years later, I was thrilled when the opportunity arose to volunteer with Prof. Patrick Morton at the Los Robles High School Astronomy Club. My two children and I had the opportunity to participate in activities related to the relationship between humans, the planet Earth and outer space. Thus, my family and I introduced ourselves to the study of paleontological and astronomical events that affected humanity in the course of history.

As a science-oriented person, curiosity and the love of learning about nature have served as fuel to help me start new paths and find ways to help others understand their own challenges. As a mother raising two kids, I focused heavily on encouraging them to reach their goals and defeat barriers – a focus I want to see for all children. I was concerned that some children were feeling discouraged from setting math and science goals due to the fear of failing or a lack of resources. This motivated me to do something about it. I decided to work on 3 important issues to find innovative ways to introduce kids to science: changing how children and youth feel about STEM, encouraging people around them to support the cause and raising resources to get results.
Changing how children and youth feel about STEM should be introduced through fun activities so that they begin to feel comfortable with science, while developing skills to make them stronger in science and math. If young people are confident in their own abilities, they develop an open mindset to learn about science and math. STEM Learning can be fun and fascinating for young curious minds and if they also know its practical applications, it becomes more natural for them to think about it. For instance, millennials use technology all the time, spending a lot of time learning with innovative software. This helps eliminate the sentiment among students at all ages that science is “not for me”. It’s exciting to see that engagement enhances learning for students at all levels and creates beneficial effects on students from underrepresented groups and with learning barriers. This is likely due to a greater sense of belonging that comes with hands-on activities. These activities can be as simple as challenging students to solve problems in their day-to-day activities, or more intensive learning, such as engaging students in original research or designing a project.

When underrepresented and under-resourced children engage in STEM learning, it contributes significantly to building confidence in themselves. They are able to assume new daily challenges, awakening their initiative to seek answers and it activates their motivation to achieve goals. As a result, they will take control of their own projects. In this way, families, teachers, and students can work together to achieve develop progressive communities.

Raising money with the mission of familiarizing children and youth with STEM requires the commitment of all teams within an organization. It is necessary to personalize and synchronize tasks with volunteers and science experts in order to stay on mission. This is not always easy, because this team needs to be engaging to work with kids and their barriers. All of this would not be possible without the participation of our supporters and partners, who understand the work involved. This is where the fundraiser’s work begins, taking this mission to potential funders and getting them interested in the cause and its deep effect in communities.

Our mission is to encourage and empower children and youth to achieve their educational potential and become successful in their future careers. This will create community leaders and support learning and skill development in STEM. The reason is simple – child and youth deserves an opportunity to achieve their goals and thrive in the communities that they belong to. Every home can have a leader, a thinker, a scientist, a businessmen or an environmentalist. Families and broader society will be rewarded when these young leaders improve the future through their talents and skills. Our planet and environment will be healthier with more people fighting to save it. Countries will strengthen their economies and their ability to protect their citizens with the support of these young leaders in the future.

Personally, my journey has been gratifying and challenging. I received a unique opportunity, where my background in sciences joined with the chance to help young people in achieving their goals, all through the support of whom want to help them. The learned lessons on this path have taught me a variety of skills such as organizational administration, resource allocation and donor prospecting, while also increasing my understanding of the barriers to education faced by children. But the most important lesson has been to find out that everybody can make difference in our community, and improve lives. I am helping to grow prosperous professionals with the tools to strengthen society.

The path to fundraising for STEM is full of challenges. It is about striving to help children and youth take control of their future and keep all of their options open. Children and youth are the true treasure of a nation, and any effort to make them feel confident in their skills and knowledge is valuable. I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to use my life experiences to help children and youth work towards a bright future. My life experience has defined my path as a fundraiser for STEM. I am supporting new generations and their interest to stay motivated about science, and start their quest to become more confident through their educational achievements. We have the ability to reach many diverse communities where kids feel alone in their educational challenges and provide support for them to defeat their fear in failing in science. To me, this reality is no longer in the distant future. In this moment I have already found what I want to do with my life: giving opportunities to kids to become future leaders through STEM programs.