Meet Tonya - Volunteering to Groom Future STEM Professionals
Updated: Feb 2
“I was inspired to volunteer with JerseySTEM as I continued to witness how disproportionately women and minorities, in particular in underserved communities, did not have access to STEM opportunities.
I wanted to be part of a team building out the pipeline of talent for our future leaders.”
For Tonya Walley, the STEM education gap is a personal affront: “I am hoping (JerseySTEM) will close the equity gap on women and minorities in STEM roles,” she explains about the long-term JerseySTEM goal of advancing women and minorities in the STEM workforce.
“I believe the STEM enrichment gap exists in our country because there are access issues, in that some (school) districts do not have appropriate funding for STEM-related activities. There is also an issue with pure STEM awareness and how everything we do has tentacles in STEM learnings.”
Tonya works as a leader in field operations and plant maintenance for Cox Communications. While hers is a career most obviously rooted in technology, she acknowledges that she would not have gotten to where she is professionally without exposure to STEM enrichment; and she believes that technology (capital T in STEM) touches most jobs these days. Ergo, STEM enrichment is quite essential to a comprehensive education plan.
Tonya has volunteered directly with New Jersey school students to help bridge the STEM enrichment gap. She helped with onsite activities such as building robots and educating kids on the importance of STEM knowledge in the workplace.
JerseySTEM has been effective at enriching STEM education for New Jersey students these past nine years because of passionate volunteers like Tonya: “My vision for the future of JerseySTEM is that there would be a robust communication plan to educate students on the importance of STEM roles and that there would be funding allocated to teach students and expose them to STEM activities,” she says.
We quite agree!
Please consider doing what Tonya and other STEM professionals are doing to help build a strong pipeline of future leaders. Thank you!