Brookhaven National Lab and SUNY Old Westbury joined forces to host 160 students from Long Island and NYC high schools for a day of mentorship and science that included tours of the lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source II, its Center for Functional Nanomaterials and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider control room.
The students, most from economically challenged, diverse community high schools, were also treated to hands-on activities highlighting the lab’s research initiatives, as well as discussions aimed at promoting careers in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program also included national leaders of the My Brother’s Keeper, a public-private initiative launched by President Obama to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by young people of color.
“As a national laboratory, our greatest asset is our employees and the strengths, skills and creativity they bring to work each day,” Brookhaven Lab Director Doon Gibbs told the group. “Keeping our nation competitive on the global technology stage will require a new generation of scientists and engineers that is truly representative of our nation as a whole – and programs like My Brother’s Keeper can help make that goal a reality.”
LaDoris Harris, the director of DOE’s diversity effort, also urged the students to take advantage of the mentorship and support networks available to them.
“We’re here because our future relies on you,” Harris told the students. “Whether you want to become STEM leaders or president of the United States, make sure that you do each and every day all you can do, be excellent at what you do, and know that we recognize how important it is for us to do what we can for each of you.”
The morning session kicked off with a panel discussion, moderated by SUNY Old Westbury President Calvin O. Butts III, that included scientists and staff from the lab, educators from Old Westbury and leaders from public and private sector organizations. A follow-up event will be held in April at SUNY Old Westbury to give students an opportunity to meet with recent graduates and faculty.