Our founder, Adamaka Ajaelo, fell in love with STEM early in her childhood. Some of her fondest memories include her father quizzing her and her siblings on math using candy. From those moments, she grew to love the interconnectedness between STEM and her everyday world. As she matriculated through school and transitioned into college, she became the only black woman in her math classes – and often the only person of color. Over time her support system disappeared, she faced discrimination and struggled with a lack of encouragement to pursue her STEM education.
As she entered the workforce, she learned that her experience of feeling discouraged, isolated and unsupported was all too common in her community. These painful experiences motivated her to start Self-eSTEM and provide young girls with the empowerment, resources and support to succeed, despite the resistance and rejection they are likely to face in STEM studies and careers.
With the amazing efforts of our Board of Directors, we hope to ensure more young girls and women from untapped communities enter and remain in the STEM industry.
Since our founding in 2014, Self-eSTEM has established more than 50 partnerships/grants, has a program attendance volume of more than 700 girls, and has an overall program retention rate of 42%. This past year in 2018, we:
- Launched a F.I.R.S.T. Tech Challenge robotics team
- Made history as the first all girls, underrepresented minority team to compete in a NorCal qualifier
- Established 15+ program sponsors/partnerships
- 70% of our program attendees realized that they can pursue STEM-related jobs
- Received Walmart Community Playmaker Award (Executive Director)
- Won the Coalition of Black Excellence 2019 Impact Nonprofit of the Year Award