On January 4th, 2017 Services to Youth hosted a reunion gathering for the 2016 Debutantes and their Escorts at the home of Link Denise Burnett. The evening included dinner, a pre-movie workshop based around the film “Hidden Figures,” and curriculum that highlighted the different careers that are available to young women in the STEM industry.
We showed three video clips that highlighted nine young women who currently work at NASA. The women work in the Technology, Mathematics, and Science fields. The videos were part of the curriculum from “Aspire 2 Inspire,” a program designed by NASA to enlighten young women about STEM related jobs at NASA. Although the STEM field has long been perceived as being a male dominated industry, these videos showcase how current modern women have significant impact in STEM careers today. The Services to Youth initiative was to bring awareness to the vast opportunities available in STEM, and how they tie into various forms of artistic pursuits.
The movie screening was planned through a partnership with Mr. Darron Ricks, a young African American publicist who was in attendance during our workshop. He shared historical information about the film and the main character Katherine Johnson. He chronicled her many contributions not just to NASA, but also to the United States. We provided our group with an informational handout from the “Aspire 2 Inspire” website. It includes a list of resources where persons interested in STEM careers can connect with organizations that provide research materials, career guidance, and general STEM outreach.
After the workshop, the group drove to the movie screening at The Landmark Theater at the Westside Pavilion Mall. Once at the theater, our Links group was ushered into special VIP seating, that provided us with optimal seating choices. The movie was an inspirational reminder that people can overcome any obstacle, as long as they are prepared and ready when given the opportunity. The group left the theater feeling truly inspired and uplifted. This was a great history lesson on the strength, determination and faith that was required to exist at that time. One of the teens commented on how determined and smart these women had to be, because they functioned as human computers, before IBM computers were even invented. The film was eye opening to a generation that relies on smartphones and the internet for instant answers to most problems. The realization that before there were computers, there were women, specifically African American women solving complicated math equations was surprising to most of the young participants.
Seeing the film and understanding the contributions Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson made, was a proud moment for every Link and teenager in attendance. Links that were young adults when John Glenn and his Friendship 7 Shuttle were launched into orbit were astonished to learn that an African American woman and a team of colleagues were the brains behind one of the most remarkable moments in American history. They shared memories of experiencing segregation and the racial tensions during that not so distance time period. Other Links spoke of participating in protest marches and witnessing firsthand many educational injustices. They remembered when for some, education was a privilege, and not necessarily a right. African Americans were fighting to have a voice and civil rights in the United States. Many recalled that day when John Glenn was launched into orbit, not knowing if he was going to make it back safely. The fact that he did and was celebrated on magazines covers, as a great American was not a new revelation. After watching the film “Hidden Figures,” and learning Katherine Johnson was the real American hero, hidden from view and never written into a single history book, The Los Angeles Chapter of Links Inc. was proud to have the opportunity to share this American story with the 50 youths invited to celebrate the strength and genius of three, until now, unheard of African American women.
The evening positively impacted our entire group, allowing us to accomplish the STEM initiatives outlined for us on the Links National Website.
Link Angela Robinson listens to guest speaker Darron Ricks during the workshop on future STEM careers.
2016 Debutantes at the Private Screening of Hidden Figures.
National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative
The National STEM Education and Career Readiness Initiative was crafted out of The Links, Incorporated’s dedication to ensuring quality STEM education at all grade levels so that youth may be exposed to and prepared to study for STEM related careers.
Through the National STEM Initiative, local chapters work to:
- Establish sustainable partnerships with select STEM focused organizations and/or corporations that have national reach, demonstrated results and progressive educational programs
- Implement STEM educational programming pre-K – 16, including toolkit applications to support The Arts (STEAM) and Health and Human Services facets programming
- Facilitate mentoring opportunities with STEM professionals and academia with a goal of reducing the attrition rate of college students who pursue and graduate in STEM disciplines
- Prepare and encourage students to attend community college and/or a 4-year college for STEM related educational disciplines
- Enhance STEM related career opportunities for minority students through scholarships and internships
Services to Youth Facet 2016-17
In conclusion, the workshop and movie screening were a great event for everyone. We took photos and sent tweets after the film to generate a buzz of excitement around the movie.
The evening allowed the debs and the escorts to reconnect; the mothers that attended got an opportunity to bond and reminisce on the excitement of the Cotillion; and for the Los Angeles Chapter of Links Incorporated, it was not only sisterhood at its best, but also the opportunity to kick off the 2017 year with friendship, fun, and most importantly of all…..community building. Teamwork through friendship made it a fun and whimsical night for everyone.
The Services to Youth Committee had such a strong presence at this very inspiring event and phenomenal opportunity created for young women by Link Lynne Hobbs. This very relevant event had tremendous chapter support. In attendance were: Links Michele Robinson, Angela Robinson, Lynne Hobbs, Denise Burnett, Jaqueline Ryan, Irma Brown, Peggy G. Loeb and Eloise Crippens. Carla Pittman (President), Belinda Stith, Arnecia Williams, Daria Ibn-Tamas, Suzette Banks, Alumni: Carolyn Robinson, Glynis Morrow and Trudy Williams and Connecting Links Eugene Robinson, Chip Loeb, M.D., and Hon. Dion Morrow.
Angela and Michelle Robinson, Co-Chairmen