Technology Access Foundation (TAF) Varsity Luncheon 2016

March 2016 – As you might know, we are huge fans of Technology Access Foundation (TAF). TAF is a non-profit leader in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education for students to prepare them for college-level study and professional roles.

Located in Federal Way, WA, TAF Academy is a 6th-12th grade STEM-focused public neighborhood school that prepares students for college and careers via project-based curriculum. Since 1996, TAF has been a leader in providing quality and accessible STEM education for students of color. TAF will be turning 20 this year and plans to hold a 20th Anniversary Gala in October 2016.

Last week, Wimmer Solutions was invited to celebrate the success of TAF Academy at their Varsity Luncheon at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Friends, partners, alumni and students were invited to celebrate with a special lunch and presentations by students. At the entrance, there was a display of the history of TAF with statistics about graduates and current students.

The luncheon was hosted by a TAF Alumni who went on to work at Microsoft and Nordstrom. Beginning the presentation with a talk from someone who had been through the program and lead to success really brings everything full circle for those of us in the audience. Trish Dziko, co-founder and Executive director of TAF gave us a run-down of the history of TAF. Trish is one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met; one of those people who found their purpose in life.

I was lucky enough to sit next to a young man, Zende Jacobs, who was dressed sharply and exuded quiet confidence. I asked him about his experience at TAF Academy and the Lighthouse Lab. He lit up as he started to tell me his experience at TAF and his plans to double major at one of the four college he was accepted to (theater arts, and some kind of engineering – though he hadn’t decided yet). Most recently, he was a National Qualifier in Programmed Oral Interpretation at the Western Washington District Tournament, all while studying STEM education at TAF and achieving a 4.0 GPA. As he finished telling me about his positive experience at TAF, the lights dimmed. He presented 3 original poems about his experience as a young African American male in STEM and our society. He performed with such ease like he was born to be on the stage and share his messages; later he told Matt Sauri and I that he used to perform poetry on the streets of downtown Seattle.

Favour Orji gave a brilliant presentation of original poetry she wrote about “Imposter Syndrome.” Later, I learned that Favour Orji won the TAF Academy STEM Expo with her research about examining the role of thyroid hormone in adult neurodevelopment and plasticity. She has been accepted to Washington State University Pullman.

Three younger students presented their engineering class project on their “future city” design, which included underground vertical farms and use of water channels. It’s inspiring to see these young minds take on urban planning; it makes me wonder how our cities and towns will evolve in the next 30 years as the tech-children of the now grow up.

Thank you TAF, for all that you do. We can’t wait to celebrate 20 more with you! For more information about the TAF Academy, visit their website to learn about how they prepare their students for college.

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