A STEM star thrives in Cleveland—before and during the pandemic

By: Kenrya Rankin, Marcia Pledger

High-achieving student uses Verizon Innovative Learning tech to shine brighter.

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Keziah Dorroh uses her device in the nation’s first 5G Verizon Innovative Learning Lab in Cleveland, Ohio.

This spring, schools nationwide pivoted to distance learning to keep students and staff safe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. That shift cast a light on the importance of programs like Verizon Innovative Learning, which helps foster digital inclusion in underserved communities through technology and connectivity. But there’s something about taking a closeup look at a student who dives into the program and is lit up by what she discovers there that really drives home just how impactful it is. It’s harder to find a student who shines brighter than Keziah Dorroh, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Entrepreneurship Preparatory Cliffs in Cleveland, Ohio. And visits with her both before the pandemic and during it show that even the coronavirus can’t dim her light.

Last fall, we visited E Prep Cliffs to talk to Keziah, her teachers and her biggest fan: her mother, LaKisha Moss Dorroh. After watching her student use advanced emerging technologies in the school’s Verizon Innovation Lab, she gained an expanded understanding of how the resources, coupled with support from committed teachers, added a new dimension to her daughter’s education.

Keziah’s energy was infectious as we followed her to class and watched her interact with other students and her Verizon Innovative Learning coach, Jonathan Lubas. From using virtual reality headsets to explore the cosmos, to creating with a 3D printer, it was easy to see how her curiosity and a comprehensive, STEM-focused curriculum joined forces to propel her forward. “My favorite stem-related class that I have in school really is math. I’ve improved so much,” Keziah said.

We checked back to see how Keziah was faring during distance learning and connected virtually with her for an update. It turns out the star student threw her considerable energy into helping her classmates keep up with their classwork. “I tried to call as many people as possible just to make sure that everyone was okay. ‘How you doing? You need help with work?’ I always just wanted to put that extra mile,” she said.

Watch how technology and access help Keziah thrive during an unprecedented time—and how Verizon Innovative Learning is helping her win the future.

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