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Columbia Youth in STEM Initiative Celebrates Seventh Cohort

This spring, the seventh group of students completed the Columbia Youth in STEM Initiative, since the program’s launch in 2016. Launched by Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, with support from corporate partners and community organizations, the Columbia Youth in STEM Initiative addresses the persistent gender and diversification gap across science, technology, engineering, and math fields. It prepares students from underrepresented populations to enter college and the workplace with increased confidence and capabilities. Participants during the 2021–2022 academic year hailed from high schools across the New York City area, including: Achievement First Brooklyn High School; All City Leadership Secondary School; Beacon High School; the Bronx High School of Science; Central Park East High School; Civic Leadership Academy; Community Health Academy of the Heights; Francis Lewis High School; the Global Learning Collaborative; Hillcrest High School; John Dewey High School; and Marble Hill High School for International Studies.  

The highly selective program is open to academically exceptional high school students in grades 10 to 12. The initiative collaborates with various nonprofits, such as Apex for Youth, Madison Square Boys and Girls Club, and Columbia’s Double Discovery Center, as well as high schools across New York City to nominate students for the program. National Geographic, NASA, Goldman Sachs, and Google have been long-time sponsors, and this year, the program enjoyed new collaborations with Women Who Drone and Geller & Co.   

Over the course of the academic year, participants took several courses with the Columbia University Pre-College Programs, including Cell and Molecular Biology of Medicine, Thinking Like a Doctor, Introduction to Global Economics and Public Policy, Understanding Blockchain, AI & Machine Learning, and the Neuroscience of Psychiatric Disorders. In April, the group joined the program on campus for a one-week residency focused on STEM careers, college readiness, leadership, and mentoring. The students also studied with the Columbia Digital Storytelling Lab and together, had a hands-on experience adding to the blockchain.  

The residency week concluded with a reception that included the outgoing Youth in STEM cohort and their instructors, SPS senior leadership, representatives from the program's nominating organizations, guest speakers, and other program collaborators. Students showcased their work and received their certifications of participation. “The Youth in STEM program is not just about STEM,” said Associate Director of Pre-College Programs Vanessa Carrillo. “We learn about leadership and the qualities of a good leader–qualities like gratitude, appreciation and kindness, which often gets overlooked.”  

Learn more about Columbia’s Youth in STEM Initiative.