Dozens of Prince George’s County students learned how studying science can give their career prospects a lift after a visit from accomplished scientists ranging from an inventor to an astronaut.
About 60 high school students from across the county attended a July 20 Science Career Day on the campus of Bowie State University.
“Everything I heard was good,” said Adedolape Adegbite, 18, of Bowie. “I’ve loved every single thing here.”
The talk was one of the final events for the students who were enrolled in the Pre-College Science Scholars Academy. The academy, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, is a three-year program staged during the summer that gives students the ability to gain eight college credits that can be used at most national universities, said BSU spokeswoman Damita Chambers.
The program is free for the students, and each person enrolled is chosen based on a combination of grades and submitted essays, Chambers said. Those students selected for the program spend about six weeks living and taking classes on Bowie State’s campus.
The program, which gives college-level courses to high schoolers, is intensive, said Brittany Johnson from Temple Hills. The classes on biology Johnson has taken at BSU have gone into greater depth than the ones she had in high school, she said.
“This is much different than high school,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of stressful.”
Speakers such as Jeanette Epps — an astronaut in training at such locations as Houston, Texas, while she prepares for her first voyage into space — spoke to the group about the importance of having good mentors to help guide their progress.
“Have someone to encourage you and not discourage you,” she said.
James West of Baltimore, who in 1964 co-invented the Electret Microphone — used by 90 percent of microphones — informed the students of the challenges they might face.
West told the students that in the fields of science and technology, minorities and women make up about 5 percent of professionals working in the field, West said. However, with society become more and more interconnected and reliant on technology, jobs in science will be more and more important in the future, West said.
“What you need to decide now is what you want,” he said. “I strongly suggest you pay now and collect the benefits later.”
Some of the students, such as David Belton of Temple Hills, already have begun to make sacrifices for science.
“This summer I wanted to get a job but I think this is more important,” said the 15 year-old rising junior at Suitland High School. “It’s been an interesting experience.”