Changing View Of STEM Skills

Young people in West Virginia (and their parents) are told time and again they are facing greater challenges than their peers in almost any other state. It can feel like an impossible task to overcome all we are told we are facing.

But West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee knows something all the “experts” do not:

“Tackling these issues is an enormous undertaking that requires grit and determination,” he said recently in unveiling a new initiative. “Luckily there is no shortage of these attributes in the people of West Virginia. Enabling West Virginia’s children to envision a future that may not look anything like their present or past can turn the tide in the Mountain State. Our hope is that this program will inspire our youth to stay and prosper in the state and truly move West Virginia forward.”

WVU and pharmaceutical company Mylan N.V. are working together in a 10-year program focusing on STEM-CARE. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, of course; but also encouraging kids to be Curious, Active, Resilient and Engaged. It will use WVU’s existing STEM resources, but also West Virginia’s 4-H Club infrastructure.

Among the goals of this program is to change the way young people think about STEM skills. They are not just building blocks leading to advanced degrees and lots of college debt; they are fundamental in daily life, and in all kinds of trades. Exploring those possibilities comes from being curious, active, resilient and engaged.

In a series of grants totaling $5 million over the next 10 years, Mylan will help WVU bring this program to kids all over the state. The timing is perfect, as young people are in desperate need of encouragement to explore, to think outside the Mountain State’s traditional box. Perhaps the ideas generated through this program will propel West Virginia into its transitioning economy and the bright future it promises.

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