AT&T contributes $20,000 for Summer STEM Programs in NOVA

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Highlighting the importance of developing a pipeline of people equipped for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, AT&T this year contributed $20,000 to the Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Educational Foundation to support STEM-based summer programs for underprivileged high school students.

LaTara Harris, AT&T’s regional director for External Affairs, on June 29 joined NOVA President Scott Ralls; Alexandria Math, Science and Engineering Dean Chad Knights; Alexandria Provost Annette Haggray; STEMinar Coordinator Charles Britt; and Scott Price, Regional Director of the Office of Sen. Mark Warner, to announce the contribution and meet with students working on a lab project during the Cybersecurity Summer Institute at NOVA-Alexandria.

Britt explained that AT&T’s contribution supports two summer STEM-based programs that will provide underserved high school students with hands-on lab experiences, guest speakers and group projects. The goal of the STEM-based programs is to increase the participants’ interests in cybersecurity and other STEM-related careers. The key partners for the summer programs are NOVA SySTEMic Solutions, Fairfax County Public Schools and Urban Alliance.

“Minorities and women make up less than 10 and 29 of the information security workforce and overall STEM workforce, respectively,” Britt said. “Thanks to this AT&T grant, NOVA is able to further expand its efforts to develop a diverse and highly-skilled technology workforce by offering a hands-on summer enrichment experience in cybersecurity and STEM for 60 Fairfax County high school students.”

The Cybersecurity Summer Institute ran from June 26-30, and the second program – STEM Summer Institute – will begin July 6.

NOVA President Scott Ralls explained to the students that there are employers all over the D.C. metro area who are waiting for their success in the cybersecurity and IT fields.

“If you look just in this region, this is by far the hottest cybersecurity job market in the country. Approximately a third of all the cybersecurity jobs available last year were between Baltimore and the Northern Virginia areas. Half of those were in Northern Virginia,” Ralls said. “If you decide cybersecurity is what you want to pursue in the future, you may never have to worry about a job. We also hope that if you’re enjoying this camp and the faculty here, we hope you’ll consider NOVA because we have one of the fastest growing cybersecurity programs in the country.”

Scott Price, regional director of the Office of Sen. Mark Warner, explained that government agencies are in need of highly-trained cybersecurity experts, while Harris explained that the skills students are learning in STEM camps are timely and very important in today’s workforce. Price and Harris also advised the students to monitor their online and social presence because when vetting potential employees in the cybersecurity field, agencies often research candidates and how they use social media.

Also in attendance during the presentation were Northern VA Community College Educational Foundation Executive Director John Ruffino and Vice President of Institutional Advancement Elizabeth Weatherly.

The NVCC Educational Foundation, Inc. was established in 1979 to raise private financial support to augment programs and existing services to attract funds to develop new courses and programs. Funds are used to provide various types of support including scholarships, faculty development, program support and capital needs. The Foundation supports more than 500 scholarships and a range of academic programs throughout the college's six campuses and Extended Learning Institute.

Read more about the event and check out photos from the announcement here.

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