Kristina Smith's Hope for Youth Program Tackles Diversity in STEM by Combining Technology, Travel, and Teaching
Hope for Youth (www.gethype.org) is a nonprofit organization that was founded in September 2017 by Smith – a computer engineer and avid traveler -- with the goal of exposing underserved and underrepresented youth to Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education and career pathways at home and abroad.
The Hope for Youth cohort bound for Nicaragua is comprised of young women who are between 17 and 18 years old. These young women will take the coding knowledge that Smith has taught to them and become the teachers for 7th and 8th grade students at the LifeLink International School in Managua, the country's capital.
This pilot program is called the HYPE International Experience. It is a project that emerged from Smith's own experience growing up with little exposure to coding, who then chose a career path in technology during college.
"Hope for Youth was created specifically for underserved and underrepresented students in the technology space. That ranges from young ladies, minorities and those who come from lower income backgrounds,"
Smith has worked as a technology consultant and engineer for nearly 7 years with several large corporations. Upon seeing firsthand the lack of diversity in the technology sector, she was motivated to encourage more young people -- who come from a similar background as hers – to enter the technology sector.
"There is a saying, 'You can't be what you can't see'. I want to lead by example," explains Smith. "My capacity to dream was enhanced by travel. With this program I have linked my background in technology with my passion for travel to help young students."
According to Smith, all of the young women that are participating in the Hope for Youth International Experience are African-American and either seniors in high school or a freshman in college. For three of the four students this is their first experience in traveling outside of the country.
To learn more about Hope for Youth program, listen in on our podcast interview with Kristina Smith by Clicking Here.