Seeing stars
Posted on 05/14/2021
6 people pose for a photo

Three eighth grade girls at OCPS Academic Center for Excellence K8 School are being inspired and mentored by someone younger than them. 

Ivyana Shelton, Shontayna White and Jamila Thomas, all 14 years old, are working with Alena Wicker on goal setting, studying best practices, organization and other school and life success tips. Alena is a 12-year-old high school graduate who is headed to Arizona State University this month. Alena plans to double major in chemistry and astronomy with the goal of working for NASA.

Alena noticed the racial and gender disparities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and decided to be part of the solution. She is mentoring other minority girls; she launched her own website, the Brown STEM Girl to provide an outlet for girls of color in STEM; and she is working on a podcast, which will release its first episode in a couple weeks. 

3 girls looking into laptopsIvyana, Shontayna and Jamila participated in a question-and-answer session with Alena Wicker that aired on “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.”  

Even though the eighth-grade girls are attending different high schools next year, they hope to maintain the connection with Alena to reach their STEM career goals.