Buffalo girls heading to Detroit to explore STEM opportunities

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A bus trip to Detroit is opening doors for young women of color. Wednesday morning, fourteen high school girls from around the Buffalo Public Schools system boarded a bus to begin the journey meant to set them up for future success.

They’re going from the Queen City to the Motor City thanks to the Success Looks Like Me program and General Motors.

Over the next few days, they’ll be exploring everything from the GM headquarters and design centers, to the ONStar Command Center, and local cultural sites, while meeting everyone from automotive executives to astronauts. “It’s full plan, a full schedule, and we’re hoping something that they get something out of,” said Nina Price, community relations manager for the GM Tonawanda Engine Plant, who was boarding the bus to go on the trip to Detroit Wednesday.

Everything on the schedule will offer the students a chance to explore opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Those industries are typically dominated by white men. “Not only am I a female, but I’m also a minority, where not many minorities are in this field, so I applaud myself because I’m a female and a minority pursuing my dreams in the STEM industry,” said McKinley High School Senior Selena Diaz right before the bus left for Detroit.

Organizers say Success Looks Like Me is all about opening a world of opportunities. “We want the students of color to see other people look like them, whether they’re female, people of color, that are successful so they can know they can be successful also,” explained Jennifer Parker, chair of the Success Looks Like Me program. This trip specifically is aimed at opening opportunities for the young women involved and encouraging them to consider STEM careers.

“I’m excited because it could open up all my opportunities and what I want to do in the future because I don’t really know yet, so I’m excited to figure out what I want to do,” Leecia Clinkscales, a McKinley High School junior, told News 4 as she boarded the bus.

As the young women said goodbye to their families in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, they said they were feeling a mix of emotions. “I’m feeling energetic and excited for this experience. It’s going to be something incredible,” Diaz said, while De’Amari Sanford, a Charter School of Applied Technologies sophomore, said she was “nervous, excited, honored.”

The girls were also feeling plenty of support from the people who came to see them off, and from each other, cheering each other on in their big dreams for the future. “I don’t feel alone. Everyone’s on my side,” Sanford said.

This is the second trip to Detroit for the Success Looks Like Me program, which sent a group of young men to explore STEM careers last October. This year’s trip is the first open just for girls.

The participants are expected to return to Buffalo late Friday evening.

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