#weneedmore Camelback High: 5 students stoke success through STEM

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“Being a first generation student has always been difficult,” says Sila Frayre, a senior at Camelback High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Like her classmates Anjelina, Alejandra, Olivia and Ashley, Sila dreams of being the first person in her family to go to college, a dream that can only be accomplished by securing college scholarships, a fiercely competitive process.

To give their students the leading edge, Camelback teachers Julie Bourdo and Maria Abrams applied to be part of Verizon Innovative Learning. Developed in partnership with Arizona State University, the program trains teachers to incorporate design thinking and entrepreneurship into their classrooms. Students use their newly acquired skills to create technology-based solutions to problems local businesses are facing. Bourdo and Abrams credit this program with giving their students the experience and real life opportunities needed to be successful and to outperform more affluent schools in their district in competitions and conferences. 

Senior girls with a tablet in school

This year, Camelback students won 26 spots at DECA, an international career development conference, making them one of the largest groups to ever attend the conference from one school. And the app these Camelback seniors created as part of a class project to help people “Shop Easy” for groceries won awards for Best in State at DECA as well as the Verizon Innovative Learning app challenge.

It’s opportunities like these that have enabled these seniors along with several of their classmates to secure over $1 million in scholarships. All five women plan to attend Arizona State University in the fall.

“A lot of people look at us like those aren’t just women, they’re Latina who are doing it. If they can do it, I can do it too,” Alejandra says of how her and her classmates’ accomplishments have inspired others in their community. Anjelina adds, “It shows that even students from these poorer backgrounds can accomplish these amazing things.”

Learn more about Verizon Innovative Learning’s commitment to providing free tech, free access and immersive STEM learning experiences to students at weneedmore.com.

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