Closing the Tech Diversity Gap

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The Align Master’s Program: a direct path to a master’s in computer science for non-computer science majors

By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be more than one million job openings in technology fields that won’t be filled by the current pipeline of students.

America faces a serious shortage of high-tech workers, in part because today’s universities are not attracting enough women and underrepresented minority students into tech—or those undergraduates are self-selecting out of trying computer science. That’s where Northeastern University’s Align Master’s Program comes in.

Align focuses on closing the diversity gap in tech by providing students from any academic background a direct path to a master’s degree in computer science (CS). And now Northeastern has received philanthropic and corporate funding to expand the Align program. The funding will pay for the first semester of study for women and underrepresented minorities—a critical step toward removing economic barriers and ensuring degree completion.

“First-semester scholarships are an incredibly effective way to recruit people who might not otherwise try computer science,” said Carla Brodley, dean of Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science. “For students who choose to go on to the second semester, the completion rate is 95 percent to date.”

Align is designed for non-CS majors and people without programming experience, and it has a unique structure that is more similar to a medical or law degree than a traditional CS master’s program. The program starts with rigorous academic bridge courses to prepare students for graduate-level study in computer science. Students also gain real world work experience through a paid co-op or internship that lasts six to eight months. Northeastern has a global network of more than 3,000 employer partners, including more than 500 technology companies.

Amber WatsonPiloted at Northeastern’s Seattle campus, Align is also available at the university’s Boston, Charlotte, and Silicon Valley campuses. The program is typically completed in two and a half years, with classes offered in the evenings year-round. This flexibility is key for many Align students who are working professionals.

“I work full time, and my job is really more than 40 hours per week. I also have a child and commute to Boston every day—yet Align is still possible,” says current student to get a second bachelor’s degree, but now I can get a master’s-level education.”

By 2022, Northeastern’s goal is to graduate 1,000 students annually from the Align program—50 percent women and 25 percent underrepresented minority students. Recent program graduates include a student who studied chemistry as an undergrad, and after earning her master’s in computer science, now works for a major pharmaceutical company. Another majored in English and was offered a technical writing job at a top technology firm upon program completion. Another studied philosophy before enrolling in Align—she now works at a nonprofit institute conducting research on artificial intelligence.

“We’ve proven that the model makes sense, that it works, and now we’re ready to scale it to solve a workforce development problem—but more importantly, a problem of social equity and inclusion,” explains Brodley.

The Align Master’s Program is built for people with diverse perspectives and experience who are looking to break into technology, equipping those students with the knowledge and practical skills needed to succeed. Students like Andrew Dickens, who earned both a bachelor’s and an MBA degree in business, spent several years in the U.S. Air Force, and graduated with his master’s in computer science in 2017. Dickens now works at Amazon as a Software Development Engineer and also teaches one of the program’s introductory courses at the Seattle campus.

“When I started, I couldn’t write a line of code. I’d never heard of Python, seen Java, or even opened a terminal on my laptop,” he says. “Align allowed me to bridge that gap in knowledge—to learn and grow at my pace—and come out with a master’s in computer science.”

Learn more about Northeastern University’s Align Master’s Program: align.ccis.northeastern.edu

Northeastern

Morgan State University Awarded $1.6 Million Base 11 Grant to Launch Student Rocketry Program

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MSU-grant

The nonprofit Base 11 today announced that Morgan State University is the winner of a three-year, $1.6 million Aerospace Workforce and Leadership Development Grant, which will fund a state-of-the-art rocketry lab and launch a student rocketry team.

Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin was on hand to formally present the check to and inspire university students who were in attendance, to pursue aerospace as the “Next Frontier.”

The commercial space industry is expected to become a $2.7 trillion economic sector in the next 30 years, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Yet the industry faces challenges in recruiting a diverse workforce. According to the National Science Foundation, African Americans make up just 5 percent of the science and engineering workforce.

“We want to ensure that the next generation of space innovators is just as diverse as America,” said Melvin, a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions. “I am excited to see this generation of students getting critical hands-on experience in rocket technology, and I encourage Morgan State’s students to seize this incredible opportunity to reach for the stars.”

The grant, which aims to improve diversity in the aerospace talent pipeline, was announced in June 2018, and drew proposals from eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Leland Melvin was joined by experts from Dassault Systèmes, Blue Origin, SpaceX, Sigma Pi Phi fraternity, and Base 11 in reviewing the applications.

“The proposals for the HBCU Aerospace Workforce and Leadership Development Grant were quite impressive,” said Base 11 Chairman and CEO Landon Taylor. “Morgan State is especially well positioned to leverage their existing resources, faculty expertise, and industry partners to launch a successful and sustainable rocketry program that brings hands-on, experiential learning to students.”

The grant will fund the build-out of a liquid-fuel rocketry lab at Morgan State, as well as the recruitment and hiring of an aerospace faculty leader to create a world-class liquid fuel rocketry program. Morgan State aims to bring together these elements to successfully build and launch a liquid fuel rocket that reaches 150,000 feet by 2022.

“We are honored that Morgan State University was selected for this competitive grant, and confident that it will further advance our efforts to increase diversity in the STEM talent pipeline, while also turning out workforce-ready talent in high-demand industries like aerospace,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “At Morgan we encourage our students to be bold and to aim for the stars, and with the launch of this program, we can provide them with the resources to take on that challenge literally.”

Morgan State will house the fledgling rocket program in its Center for Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies (CBEIS) building, the home of The School of Architecture and Planning and some of the University’s engineering programs. CBEIS is a gold certified LEED green building with solar water heating panels and a bioretention pond. Designed for the needs of the modern university student, CBEIS is also the home to the only earthquake simulator on the east coast and a supersonic wind tunnel. Students studying in this contemporary facility have access to printing labs that contain 2D and 3D printers and a fabrication lab where students can use technologically advanced cutting tools.

“With this very generous grant, we will bring together a cross-disciplinary team of faculty and external collaborators to develop and prepare our students for future opportunities in the commercial aerospace industry. This is an area loaded with opportunities for innovation and creativity, and in need of a more diverse workforce” said Dr. Willie E. May, vice president of research and economic development at Morgan State University.

Continue on to Morgan State University to read the complete article.

Computer Science Demand Is Soaring Due To Tech Bubble 2.0

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For the past several years, I’ve been warning that the tech startup boom (and the surge of interest in “coding”) is actually a dangerous bubble that is driven by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s ultra-loose monetary policies since the Great Recession. A recent New York Times piece called “The Hard Part of Computer Science? Getting Into Class” describes how young people are clamoring to study computer science:

Lured by the prospect of high-salary, high-status jobs, college students are rushing in record numbers to study computer science.

Now, if only they could get a seat in class.

On campuses across the country, from major state universities to small private colleges, the surge in student demand for computer science courses is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. At some schools, the shortage is creating an undergraduate divide of computing haves and have-nots — potentially narrowing a path for some minority and female students to an industry that has struggled with diversity.

The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17 percent, according to the Computing Research Association, a nonprofit that gathers data from about 200 universities.

Economics and the promise of upward mobility are driving the student stampede. While previous generations of entrepreneurial undergraduates might have aspired to become lawyers or doctors, many students now are leery of investing the time, and incurring six-figure debts, to join those professions.

The tech frenzy can be seen in the chart of the monthly count of global VC deals that raised $100 million or more since 2007. According to this chart, a new “unicorn” startup was born every four days in 2018.

To read the complete article, continue on to Forbes.

Conference Strengthens Pacific Island Pipeline Into STEM Careers

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The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo hosted a conference in January for educators from Hawaiʻi and 10 Pacific Island nations who are working towards encouraging students from underrepresented populations to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

At the conference, the Islands of Opportunity Alliance (IOA), led by the UH Hilo chancellor’s office, kicked off their 2019 STEM mentorship programs, which are funded by $600,000 of a continuing $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Topics at the conference included inter-campus programs, curriculum enhancements, student learning communities, peer tutoring, enrichment through research experiences, the promotion of STEM graduate degrees and employment, institutional support and sustainability plans.

UH Hilo serves as the administrative hub for the IOA, including 10 other partner institutions in American Sāmoa, Guam, Hawaiʻi, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

“We share the common goal of increasing underrepresented professionals in STEM fields and I feel inspired by each member of our alliance,” said Marcia Sakai, interim chancellor at UH Hilo and principal investigator of the program.

The main goal of the alliance is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students, with a focus on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander students who graduate with baccalaureate degrees in STEM disciplines, and go on to pursue graduate degrees or enter a STEM career in their local communities.

“The benefit is not just the STEM degree, but what the students are going to do with their STEM degree,” said Joseph Genz, UH Hilo associate professor and IOA project director. “In the vast majority of cases, that means going back home to their island communities and using their degrees to build up the capacities of their communities, fostering a system of self-empowerment.”

Continue onto Big Island Now to read the complete article.

Minority ph.D. students need institutional change to make larger impact in STEM fields

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Women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields are more likely to advance professionally, publish more research and secure postdoctoral and faculty positions if their institutional culture is welcoming and sets clear expectations, according to a study of hundreds of Ph.D. students at four top-tier California research universities.

University of Washington Provost Mark Richards, the study’s senior author, and a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) sought to understand how gender, race and ethnicity impact graduate students’ success in math, physical sciences, computer sciences and engineering, as measured by publication rates in academic journals.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that doctoral scholars in STEM fields are more likely to publish if enrolled in well-structured graduate programs that lay out clear, unbiased expectations for assessing students and supporting their careers.

“Our study strongly indicates that the onus should not fall on minority students to make changes to succeed in STEM settings,” said Aaron Fisher, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of the study. “Institutional changes that make students feel welcome and provide clear guidelines and standards for performance are optimal ways to ensure the success of all students.”

To read the Complete Article, continue on to UW News.

The Institute for Educational Leadership Launches Rise Up for Equity Campaign to Eliminate Barriers to Equity in Education and Workforce Development

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education and workforce

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) announced the launch of Rise Up for Equity, a digital and grassroots campaign to prepare, support, and mobilize leaders to eliminate systemic barriers to equity in education and workforce development.
This so everyone – especially transition-age youth and families in communities with inequitable opportunities across the United States – has the opportunity to succeed and lead independent lives.

“IEL incentivizes communities to innovate and prepares and supports local and state leaders to improve opportunity and outcomes, and close gaps in access and achievement in education and workforce development in under-resourced communities,” said Johan Uvin, President of IEL. “To us, equity is about creating more opportunities for success in education and workforce development for children, youth, adults and families, particularly in communities where that opportunity is lacking due to systemic and structural reasons.”

IEL’s strategy intends to help alleviate poverty and its impact and to contribute to creating new gateways to prosperity. Today 15 million children, or 21 percent of all children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and 51 percent of students across U.S. public schools are low income.[1] Childhood poverty is associated with negative outcomes in adulthood, such as lower academic achievement, employment rates, and poorer health.

For more information about how you can Rise Up for Equity to support leaders so all children, young adults, and communities can succeed, visit www.riseupforequity.com or join the conversation on social media using #RiseUpforEquity.

[1] According to the 2016 fact sheet of the National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP)

How This Former MIT Professor And Google Engineer Used Holograms To Build A $28 Million Startup

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A red laser pointer shining through a raw chicken carcass may not seem like groundbreaking science, but for veteran technologist Mary Lou Jepsen, it’s worth $28 million in funding for her latest startup, Openwater.

Jepsen performed the chicken act as part of her August TED Talk to illustrate how her imaging-tech company is building cost-conscious body-scanning technology by using the same components one might find at a science fair. The laser pointer’s light made both skin and bone of the plucked fowl glow, revealing a tumor just under its flesh. This simple demonstration shows the science behind what Openwater is trying to achieve; wearable diagnostics made from consumer electronic parts that offer higher resolution than multimillion-dollar MRI machines but cost as much as a smartphone.

Just as the chicken’s tumor blocked the laser pointer light, which shone through the rest of the chicken’s flesh, Openwater’s wearables will capture images by recording light particles and the negative spaces where they fail to scatter. X-rays use radiation and MRI machines use a magnetic field and radio waves because they can go through the human body and produce an image. But so does “red light, infrared light,” Jepsen tells Forbes. “Guess which one is cheaper by a lot?”

It’s a method similar to how holograms are made, and it uses readily available camera and display chips you can find in a smartphone. It’s also an idea that took Jepsen’s skill set to consider, and perhaps her impressive CV to convince investors to buy in. The serial founder led the display divisions at Intel and the semi-secret research group Google X and helped develop Oculus after Facebook purchased the virtual reality headset company in 2014. But Openwater began with Princess Leia’s projected message to Obi Wan Kenobi, when Jepsen aimed her life at building holograms like the one she first saw in Star Wars.

Hooked by the lasers and optical illusions involved, Jepsen made her first hologram as an engineering undergrad at Brown. Later, she’d use her growing skill set to develop computer display screens and VR glasses at the top tech companies in the world.

At that time, however, holograms did not pay the bills. Because holography was viewed as a frivolous “technology looking for an application,” no one would fund it, Jepsen says. “I just had to figure out a way to support my habit. I basically lived all through my 20s on $12,000 a year just because I thought I’d die if I couldn’t make holograms,” Jepsen said.

Her pursuit of holograms bought her to Melbourne, Australia, where she worked as a professor of computer science at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and helped put holograms on the country’s paper money. In Cologne, Germany, she built some of the world’s largest holographic displays, including one of historic buildings projected on an entire city block. Still, she didn’t feel her work was taken seriously, so Jepsen figured she’d need a Ph.D.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Conduct a free “unusual scholarship” search

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Students dressed in Duct Taped prom attire competing for a scholarship

For a complete list of weird scholarships, conduct a free scholarship search at www.tuitionfundingsources.com. Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) is the largest online resource for higher education funding, helping graduates and undegraduate students address the rising costs of school by providing free access to scholarship information.

Through its site TFS connects students to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in financial aid.
 
 

  1. Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest: – Students compete for scholarships by creating and wearing promwear made from Duck Brand duct tape and/or crafting tape.

 

  1. Chick and Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship Contest: – High School Seniors learn duck calls and compete for college scholarships.

 

  1. DoSomething.org Easy Scholarships: – students can win scholarships by performing fun community service projects, like registering to vote.

 

  1. Tall Club Scholarships: – Scholarships for students under 21 years of age, attending their first year of college, and who meet the height requirements of 5′ 10″ for women, and 6′ 2″ for men.

 

  1. Zolp Scholarship  – Annual awards for incoming undergraduate students at Loyola University Chicago whose last name is Zolp and are of the Catholic faith.

 

  1. Frederick and Mary Francis Beckley Left Handed Scholarship:  – For left handed students attending Juniata College

 

  1. Chick Evans Scholarship: – Scholarships for golf caddies graduating from high school.

 

  1. For the Love of Chocolate Foundation Scholarships:  – For the Love of Chocolate Foundation provides scholarships for students wanting specialized training in pastry arts.

 

  1. United Federation of Doll Clubs Scholarships; – Scholarships are to promote research, increased knowledge, understanding and appreciation of dolls.

 

  1. American Fire Sprinkler Association Scholarships:  – Scholarships are designed to educate the public at-large about automatic fire sprinklers.

3 Tips for Filling Out Applications for College Financial Aid

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College students and parents are already looking ahead to the 2019—2020 school year with the FAFSA- the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The great news is that the Department of Education just launched “myStudentAid” app to make it easier for students and families to fill out the federal student aid application through their mobile phones.

According to the National College Access Network, only 61 percent of high school students file a FAFSA, leaving more than $24 billion in state, federal and institutional aid on the table. Completion of the FAFSA form is one of the best predictors of whether a high school senior will go on to college, as seniors who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in postsecondary education.

For the 2019-2010 school year, the FAFSA filing season opens on October 1st and the sooner students file, the better as some financial aid is awarded on a first come, first served basis or from programs with limited funds.

Furthermore, students should look beyond federal student aid as scholarships are a great way to pay for college, and unlike loans they don’t need to be repaid. But winning scholarships takes time, dedication, intensive research, and hard work, especially on the essays. It’s deadline time for college applications, so it’s important to start the application for free money now!

Tuition Funding Sources (TFS) offers access to 7 million scholarships and $41 billion in financial aid. Start by filling in the registration; then with a click, the site searches to find any scholarships for which you might qualify. The more information you provide about yourself, the more matches TFS can make.

Richard Sorensen suggests these tips when applying for financial aid and scholarships:

Tip No. 1: Apply through FAFSA mobile app

The FAFSA mobile app is very simple to use as it asks one question on each page and after answering the question the student goes to the next page and the next question. The student can leave and return to the app as often as they want so it can be completed in several different sittings over a period of time.

Some students don’t apply because they mistakenly think the FAFSA is only for students with financial aid. That’s not accurate, families should know that income is not the only factor used to determine the financial aid they can get. It also depends on the number of children in a family and how many are enrolled in college at the same time.

Tip No. 2: Follow the steps carefully

Even though the FAFSA mobile app is generally easy to use, pay attention to the signature process, because both parents and dependent students are required to sign before the application can be processed. Never tap to “Start Over” button when including a parent signature as this will erase all previous information. And if you need to add a school, click “New Search” not “Next” which moves students to the next question.

Tip No. 3: Submit scholarship applications early

Meet the deadlines and don’t wait until the due date. If the organization asks you to mail the application, don’t try to email it and if there is a maximum word count limit, don’t go over it. Most scholarship providers receive more qualified applications than available funds so reduce your chances of being disqualified because you didn’t follow their requirements.

At TFS undergraduate and graduates can search for scholarships that fit their interest. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships that are the best match for undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

TFS has been helping students for over 30 years and offers more than 7 million individual scholarships and more than $41 billion in aid. Visit tuitionfundingsources.com to learn more.

November is National Scholarship Month NOW is the time to start applying for scholarships

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SALT LAKE CITY–TFS Scholarships is the most comprehensive free online resource for higher education funding connecting students to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid.

It was founded in 1987 after Richard Sorensen’s father, an inner-city high school principal, bemoaned the lack of good scholarship resources for his students.

High school seniors now applying for college should also be applying for scholarships, according to Richard Sorensen, an expert with more than 30 years experience helping students find scholarships.

“College bound students should spend four to five hours a week looking for scholarships, starting in the fall of their senior year,” says Sorensen, President of TFS Scholarships. “They should think about finding scholarships like it’s a part time job.”

A scholarship, unlike a student loan, is free money and should always be the first place students look for help in funding their college education. The majority of the scholarship opportunities featured on the TFS Scholarships website come directly from colleges and universities, rather than solely from competitive national pools, thereby increasing the chances of finding scholarships.

“There are new scholarships posted on the site every month, each with different deadlines and time frames,” says Sorensen. “There is plenty of aid out there and a lot of it goes untouched. If a student is diligent, they’ll find it.”

TFS Scholarships also posts a new scholarship opportunity every day on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@TFSscholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities. “We call it ‘The Scholarship of the Day,’” says Sorensen. “Most of the scholarships are available for all students so if a student or their parents follow us, they will have the opportunity to apply for more than 300 scholarships every year from this source alone.”

TFS takes it a step further, digging deeper into localized scholarships. “If you wanted to go to Arizona State, for example, we have scholarships specific to that school,” says Sorensen.

Each month TFS adds more than 5,000 new scholarships to its database in an effort to stay current with national scholarship growth rates – maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education.

Once students have their scholarships in hand, how they manage them can have important implications. It is up to the student to inform the school of the scholarship.

“The truth is, the money is going to be sent to the school in most cases,” says Sorensen. “If the money is going to tuition and books, it’s tax free. But it is taxable if they use it for living expenses. And if students get more money in scholarships than their direct expenses, they get the difference back from the school,” says Sorensen.

The TFS website also provides financial aid information, resources about federal and private student loan programs, and a Career Aptitude Quiz that helps students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

Thanks to the financial support of Wells Fargo, TFS has remained a free, online service that effectively connects students with college funding resources to fuel their academic future. “Students trust us with a lot of their personal information and we respect that,” says Sorensen. “With TFS, they never have to be worried about being bombarded by spam.”

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.

About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.

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30-year-old Mareena Robinson Snowden is the first black woman to earn a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT

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When Mareena Robinson Snowden walked across the commencement stage at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) on June 8th, she became the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the storied university.

For her, there was one particular word that the experience brought to mind: grateful.

“Grateful for every part of this experience — highs and lows,” she wrote on Instagram. “Every person who supported me and those who didn’t. Grateful for a praying family, a husband who took on this challenge as his own, sisters who reminded me at every stage how powerful I am, friends who inspired me to fight harder. Grateful for the professors who fought for and against me. Every experience on this journey was necessary, and I’m better for it.”

Snowden’s Ph.D. was the culmination of 11 years of post-secondary study. But the 30-year-old tells CNBC Make It that a career in STEM wasn’t something she dreamed of as a child.

“Engineering definitely was not something I had a passion for at a young age,” she says. “I was quite the opposite. I think my earliest memories of math and science were definitely one of like nervousness and anxiety and just kind of an overall fear of the subject.”

She credits her high school math and physics teachers with helping to expand her interests beyond English and history, subjects she loved.

“I had this idea that I wasn’t good at math and they kind of helped to peel away that mindset,” she explains. “They showed me that it’s more of a growth situation, that you can develop an aptitude for this and you can develop a skill. It’s just like a muscle, and you have to work for it.”

When Snowden, who grew up in Miami, was in the 12th grade and studying physics, she and her dad were introduced to a friend of a friend who worked in the physics department at Florida A&M University. At the time, she says, she was considering colleges and decided to make a visit to the campus.

“We drove up there and it was amazing,” says Snowden. “They treated me like a football player who was getting recruited. They took me to the scholarship office, and they didn’t know anything about me at the time. All they knew was that I was a student who was open to the possibility of majoring in physics.”

Continue onto CNBC News to read the complete article.