09.14.2017Community

#weneedmore Rodneys: Overcoming self-doubt through a passion for STEM

By: Kendall Lee
After participating in Verizon Innovative Learning, a middle schooler surmounts his struggles with math and pursues a future in engineering.
Watch video #weneedmore Rodneys: Overcoming self-doubt through a passion for STEM

Fifteen-year-old Rodney Thomas always loved to build things. As a child he would deconstruct his toys to invent new characters from their assorted parts. When his mom explained he could transform his passion into a future career as an engineer, a spark was lit. But Rodney struggled with math and science; he wasn’t sure if he had what it took to succeed in STEM.

That’s where the Verizon Innovative Learning for minority males initiative stepped in, giving Rodney the skills and the confidence boost he needed. The program is held at historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions around the country and provides middle school boys with hands-on, immersive learning experiences in robotics, 3D printing and app development as well as entrepreneurial skills. College students act as mentors, introducing the boys to university life—an experience that helps instill in them the belief that college and a career in STEM are achievable goals. 

Rodney Thomas

After attending the program at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland for two summers in a row, Rodney enrolled in a high school engineering program.  Before the program, Rodney says, "I used to think that stuff was never for me. I never pictured myself [where] I am today.”

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About the author(s): 

Kendall Lee is a Marketing Manager with the Verizon Foundation.