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“And now it’s kind of full circle for me. I’ve come back and I have the opportunity to work with the STEM Push network team on this work and to help push the work forward…it gave me the opportunity to do things that I didn’t have the chance to do in high school, [things that weren’t] necessarily taught in high school.”

For Dominique Briggs, it’s not hard to envision the impact that the STEM Push Network will have on students. “I was a student that didn’t test [well]. My SAT scores were not great, but my graders were excellent and my extracurricular activities were amazing. If the schools just looked at my SAT scores, I would have lost out on so much.” As the STEM Push Network’s Project Manager, Briggs is passionate about the Network’s focus on admissions as a way to equalize opportunities for underrepresented students. Briggs credits her parents, who both had graduate degrees, for helping her develop her resume with extracurricular activities to balance out lower test scores.

Briggs also participated in Investing Now, a pre-college program designed to support and prepare historically underrepresented students for admission and matriculation at the University of Pittsburgh. The program provided Briggs with a chance to learn “things that weren’t taught in high school” and also gave her “a chance to think about things differently.” The program’s college preparation training also helped Briggs articulate her strengths on her resume in a way that ultimately supported her college acceptance.

“…I look back and I think about some of my friends who might not have had the family support that I did and Investing Now,” Briggs said. “You know, to have a program like that for students who may be first generation college students or are kind of just doing [college preparations] on their own. Programs like Investing Now help them with SATs. They help them, you know, prepare for college and they give them that STEM training or help them look into possible STEM careers that they might not have in their normal high school day.”

Briggs knows that a collective approach is essential to the project’s success, stating that the STEM Push Network will “allow us to reach out and speak with other organizations who have the resources to assist in providing those opportunities to students who do not necessarily have the resources.” She also stands behind the Network’s commitment to do more than to simply bring attention to the biases and limitations of testing-based admissions–to actually offer a viable alternative instead.