YMCA rallies support to help kids access STEM activities

Posted on: May 7, 2018

May 4, 2018 By: Tara Bozick, Contact Reporter
Daily Press

Newport News Shipbuilding President Jennifer Boykin knows the importance of providing affordable opportunities for kids to get involved with science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.

Boykin, the 20th and first woman president of the Newport News shipyard, told about 300 attendees of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA’s annual breakfast on Friday at the Newport News Marriott at City Center that it will take a community effort to level the playing field for low-income students who otherwise may not be exposed to STEM experiences. Kids attending the YMCA camps and programs now may be the future shipbuilders at the shipyard, she said.

“Who knows, maybe one of them will grow up to be a shipyard president one day,” Boykin said, later adding she participated in Y summer camps as a kid in St. Louis.

The YMCA set a goal of raising $30,000 from the breakfast to send kids from low-income households to summer camps, said new CEO Adam Klutts, who has been on the job five weeks. He said the YMCA integrates STEM throughout its various camps.

The YMCA also is partnering with the Virginia Air and Space Center in downtown Hampton to host more than 1,400 campers for its fifth annual STEM fair July 19, Klutts said.

Boykin, an advocate for getting more women and minorities into STEM fields, said students in the community will be introduced to STEM fields on the first floor of the under-construction Brooks Crossing office building downtown where shipyard workers will use the top three floors. The city is working with Old Dominion University for STEM programming in that effort.

As STEM-related jobs are expected to grow, it’s important that young people on the Peninsula see these fields as opportunities, said Frank Edgar Jr., past president of the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA board. The YMCA also introduces STEM activities in its after-school programs and preschool.

Sandy Davoy, the chief financial officer at the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA, grew up on the Peninsula and remembers going to the Y on Fort Monroe as a kid. She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech before getting a master’s degree in human services.

“We are leveling the playing field,” Davoy said.

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