Imperial's Student Recruitment and Outreach team’s STEMM Futures event series has launched with over 2,300 young people attending the first seminar.
STEMM Futures is a new series of online seminars aimed at young people of Black African and Black Caribbean heritage in years 7-13. As Black people are currently underrepresented at both Imperial and in STEMM - science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine - the seminars target Black students who are interested in pursuing a future in these subjects.
Each seminar gives attendees an opportunity to find out what studying STEMM subjects at Imperial is like, the steps needed to get to university, and the type of jobs this can lead to. The four-part webinar series is one of the first initiatives as part of the College’s five year access and participation plan which aims to widen participation through outreach programmes and existing initiatives for students from disadvantaged groups.
"Events like these give underrepresented students more confidence when applying to places like Imperial because their background no longer feels like an obstacle to success.” Wunmi Olatidoye Undergraduate, Department of Chemical Engineering
At the first STEMM Futures event, of those who declared their ethnicity 64 per cent of young people in attendance were from Black African, Black Caribbean or Other Black backgrounds, and over half (58 per cent) were younger than 16 years old.
Wunmi Olatidoye, undergraduate in the Department of Chemical Engineering, was a panelist on the first ‘Discover Imperial’ session, and talked to students about what studying at Imperial can be like. Wunmi feels that young people need to see students that look like them in order to apply to universities such as Imperial.
She said: “The STEMM Futures series has attracted students because young people value the opinions and insights from those they can relate to. Seeing people of similar age and race in positions that you aspire to is indispensable. Events like these give underrepresented students more confidence when applying to places like Imperial because their background no longer feels like an obstacle to success.”
Wunmi is also the Secretary of Imperial’s African-Caribbean Society (ACS) and has been working with fellow student Temi Olapade-Ayomidele to launch an ACS Outreach Programme called ‘Being Black at Imperial.’
She added: “We have worked with members of the ACS and have spoken at schools that have predominantly Black students about studying at Imperial. So far, we have reached 430 secondary school students since October. I have enjoyed speaking to the students about my own experience at Imperial and answering their questions on some of the challenges we have faced during our time at the College.”
“A career in STEMM is for everyone”
Abdirahman Ismail, undergraduate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was a panelist alongside Wunmi. He said: “STEMM Futures is a fantastic way for young people to expand their knowledge about careers in science, technology, maths and beyond what they are being taught at school. It's great to see thousands of dedicated students from across the country sign up to the programme."
"COVID-19 has definitely highlighted the barriers people from ethnic minority and low-income backgrounds face in society, and we want these online events to showcase that a career in STEMM is for everyone.”
"I think we have proven that reaching Black students is not difficult and that we can engage students online. We need to reach out as early as we can, engage them and foster their love of STEM.” Hanna Jama Diversity and Inclusion Programme Coordinator
Hanna Jama, Diversity and Inclusion Programme Coordinator, has been at the helm of getting the STEMM Futures events off the ground. Hanna said: “The response has been phenomenal and I’ve been completely blown away by the huge numbers that attended our first event. I didn’t expect it at all.
“A lot of hard work went into getting the STEMM Futures series off the ground. We targeted hundreds of schools and community groups with an email and social media campaign to promote the events. Our evaluation so far shows a lot of young students heard about the programme through word of mouth which is amazing.
“We actively began promoting the STEMM Futures series one week before the first event took place – if all of this happened within a week, I am excited to see what happens if we scale this up in the future. I think we have proven that reaching Black students is not difficult and that we can engage students online. We need to reach out as early as we can, engage them and foster their love of STEM.”
Andrew Tebbutt, Director of Student Recruitment and Outreach, said: “We are delighted that so many Black students of different ages joined our STEMM Futures webinars and had the chance to hear from students and staff about how to go to a university like Imperial. We hope to engage more with these students as we launch new initiatives in the future.”
The STEMM Futures Series continues this weekend with their next ‘Careers showcase’ session taking place on Saturday 5 December, 14.00 – 15.00.
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