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“So, being a part of the STEM PUSH Network has really helped me to have a lot more tools to guide some of those conversations and also just make me aware of things that I was not aware of. I have primarily worked in academia, in higher ed and in non profit sectors, so hearing from people from other industries, particularly from admissions, that’s not something I was very familiar with…I can bring back to the families and the schools that we work with to tell them…this is what they’re looking for.”

As Lead Fellow of the NYC STEM Education Network, Aisha Abdullah brings a uniquely New York perspective to the STEM Push Network.

“In New York, there’s no shortage of resources here. We have really amazing science research institutions and hospitales, the largest K-12 public school district in the country; we have lots of museums and zoos and STEM institutions, but what we also have are enormous inequities.” Abdullah sees pre-college programs as a way to reach students, families, and communities affected by those inequities.

As a part of the STEM Push Network, Abdullah and colleagues have worked to understand how pre-college STEM programs serve underrepresented communities, and the ways that different organizations are improving outcomes. The team sought to focus especially on root causes of underrepresentation, such as structural inequities like biased admissions, and how to address them.

“It can be a little overwhelming at times because we serve such a large and diverse community–it can be very difficult to figure out how to meet all of these different needs.”

Abdullah additionally plans to leverage a previous project, a social justice in STEM working group, to look at the root causes of New York City. “We’ll be able to come up with a resource that is very useful to our network that is specific to New York City.”