Joyner, PhRMA bring STEM funds to CIS 303

Students at CIS 303 in Melrose Heighs met with Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner and representatives from PhRMA about STEM careers at a March 16 event. PhrMA and Joyner are donating $2,000 to the school for STEM programs.
Arthur Cusano

The technology and medical fields are booming, as companies continue to hire armies of scientists and engineers.

In fact, many jobs go unfilled simply due to the lack of skilled job candidates, said Laura Perloff, director of Advocacy and Strategic Alliances for PhRMA, a pharmaceutical trade group.

“We often have more jobs available than we are able to fill,” Perloff said. “That’s because we don’t have enough people educated in the areas we need.”

Perloff joined Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner on Thursday, March 16, to announce a grant to help fund STEM programs at CIS 303 Leadership and Service Academy in Morris Heights.

The $2,000 grant will go towards STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

The women talked with students about STEM careers and answered questions about their respective fields.

Afterwards, Joyner said she was asked by PhRMA representatives to identify a school in her district to take part in the initiative, and that CIS 303 was the first school that came to mind.

“We were just exposing the kids to STEM programs, and this grant will basically help bring the industry to the classroom,” Joyner said.

Over 300 students currently participate in technology programs at the school, and an afterschool coding club participated in a Google coding event held earlier this year.

“Many of them have interest in the STEM fields, and they are all going to wonderful places,” Joyner said. “I think this program will help them see that this dream could become a reality for them.”

Across New York state, around 50,000 people are employed in the pharmaceutical industry, and the average salary in the field is more than twice the national average.

Many of the students who attended the event said they were interested in pursuing STEM-based careers.

“I was going to pursue psychiatry, but now I want to pursue medical science,” said eighth-grader Annmarie Easy, who said she planned to attend the selective Beacon School in Hell’s Kitchen next fall.

Fellow eighth-grader Claudia Valdez said she was taking STEM classes and was considering the medical field after attending Inwood Early College For Health And Information Technologies.

“Maybe I could work in medicine and work to find a cure for diseases affecting our population today,” she said.

Seventh-grader Abdur Ibrahim said the presentation was helpful to learn about medical and technology careers.

“A lot of people are telling me to become a doctor, but I don’t know what I want to be yet, but this made me want to be a doctor even more,” he said.

Another seventh-grader, Cheimahou Yaya, said she had wanted to be a surgeon all her life. She said the presentation inspired her to pursue that dream.

“When I was young I would play surgery games, and I’ve been studying up on it on YouTube and Google,” she said.

Principal Patricia Bentley said the funding was very welcome at her school, and that she was proud of her students, her ‘303 Children.’

“They were just model students, with really good questions and engagement and a level of professionalism that is expected,” Bentley said.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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