Written by Houa Moua and Laura Litwin
In the technological age that we live in, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) shapes our everyday lives. STARBASE, a STEM based program, gives students the opportunity to embrace technology and use it in ways that set them up for success in their future endeavors.
Houa Moua, a former STARBASE student and first ever recipient of the General Tim Cossalter STARBASE Scholarship, shares her experience after completing the summer program in 5th grade and how after attending this program many years ago, it has had a lasting impact on her education perspective and sparking interests she did not know she had.
In Houa’s own words…
In 8th grade I attended Washington Technology Middle School. I signed up for an elective class in engineering and city planning. As the only girl in the class, I was shy and afraid because I viewed my intelligence as something not “up-to-par” with boys. I remember the encouragement that girls can solve “big-world” problems just as equally as boys can. During this time, I was also an English language learner. There was tremendous stress and pressure for me academically, socially, and culturally. Trying to learn English and excel in my engineering class took a lot of effort. I wasn’t talented in it naturally like my peers, but I knew that if I worked hard to learn, I could excel in it. Looking back, I felt that STARBASE helped prepare in me, a heart for learning.
Stemming from my exposure to STARBASE and my middle school class, I pursued Urban Studies as my major during my undergrad because I wanted to learn more about the urbanization in America and its systems. When I graduated, I was given the opportunity to work at CAPI USA, first as an AmeriCorps Employment Navigator. Then I moved to a case aide position and finally moved on to becoming an employment counselor. I am now working with a state program called the “Minnesota Family Investment Program”, which is an adaptation of the federal “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families” program, also known as TANF. This program is designed to help needy families achieve self-sufficiency. What I do and what these programs do are so much more than just words on a piece of paper. At CAPI, I specifically work with refugee and immigrant families. Through my experience working there I got to see how policy-making and economics played a huge role in my community and in people’s lives.
Today, I am pursuing education as a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas in their Collaborative Urban Educator program (CUE) to become an English language teacher. During the fall of 2015, I returned to STARBASE as a pre-service teacher. I was so excited to visit the very place that started it all. Through my experiences there, I now have a different view looking at STARBASE from when I was a student. As a student I just wanted to have fun and learn. Now, with the eyes of an educator and community leader, I want to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of a program– I want to solve problems and identify them. And from that, I am able to learn and improve my ways too.
To connect with former STARBASE alumni and share your story like Houa, please visit the STARBASE Alumni website here.
For more information about the 2016 General Tim Cossalter STARBASE Scholarship, click here.