Spring 2021 Barrier Breakers

Spring 2021 Barrier Breakers

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Alumni Profile: Xavier Shankle ‘20, SMASH Morehouse

Navigating the college admissions process during a pandemic is challenging, but
Xavier didn’t let that stop him. When attending in-person admitted college events were
canceled, he used the internet and virtual tours to help him select the right college.
In the end, he chose a SMASH University Partner for his undergraduate degree.

What are you doing now?
I am a first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania.
I am studying Business Economics, Public Policy, and Management at the Wharton School of Business.

Why did you choose the University of Pennsylvania?
I knew I wanted to learn the fundamental skills of business and economics. I searched what schools were good for that, and Wharton was the best. Additionally, I wanted to live in the northeast and a city environment. Also, I knew the resources offered at Wharton would position me to be successful after graduation.

Why did you choose this field of study? What are your plans for the future?
I hope to pursue a career as a corporate attorney who focuses on Mergers and Acquisitions. My ideal job would be working for the Department of Justice investigating antitrust violations.

How has SMASH helped you?
SMASH opened my eyes to the world of possibilities in the field of STEM and business and how to navigate them. Before SMASH, I knew little about how to navigate networking or how to tell my story effectively. SMASH Academy was an enriching experience and I still use the fundamental tools I learned during Networking Nights and Speaker Series in my college career. Arguably, the best benefit SMASH offers are the community of scholars, mentors, and instructors that you can build. I still talk to some of my cohort members today.

Donor Appreciation: Oracle

According to Oracle, one of the biggest challenges facing STEM is ensuring equity and closing the achievement gap. Education is the most empowering force in a young person’s life, however, many students lack access to the resources and support they need to realize their full potential. Addressing these challenges is a core part of Oracle’s philanthropic commitment to education. 

Oracle funds organizations that support future generations of computer scientists and engineers and emphasize equity as a core part of their missions. Oracle has been a proud supporter of SMASH Academy since 2012. In addition to grant funding, Oracle Volunteers have participated in networking events to connect with and mentor SMASH scholars.  

Jennifer Ross, the Senior Program Associate of Oracle Corporate Citizenship, states, “SMASH builds a diverse and socially conscious tech workforce by leveling the playing field through academic engagements and by providing hundreds of underserved high school students with pathways to college and STEM degrees and works to ensure that all students have access to these opportunities. I have been fortunate to attend both in-person and virtual site visits and am always impressed by the students’ engagement with visitors and their enthusiasm for their coursework and projects. From these visits, it is clear that there is a strong sense of community among the scholars and the educators, supporting the students’ learning and growth.”

Oracle’s work is well-aligned with SMASH’s commitment to improving access and outcomes for underserved students in STEM fields. Oracle encourages other companies to support SMASH because of its vital work to diversify the STEM ecosystem and build a pipeline of tech talent and believe that companies will reap the rewards of well-prepared, competitive leaders representing broad perspectives and sectors of society.

Mission in Action: What Would You Do If You Were Shipwrecked?

During the 2020-2021 Academic Year Programming, SMASH Midwest is offering scholars various electives. In partnership with Lewis University and Dr. Keleher, they are offering Shipwrecked. Dr. K and his research team are shipwrecked on the Galapagos Island and need SMASH scholars to use their resources to develop a solar-powered water filtration system. The island has no freshwater: it is contaminated by the shipwreck and it is saltwater. 

Prior to the start of class on Saturday, February 6, scholars received a package and watched the below video. Every Wednesday in February, scholars will work with their Lewis University mentors to build their filtration system. Dr. K was so impressed with our SMASH scholars that he is creating a research internship that would provide four SMASH scholars with 1 college credit hour!