Each summer, Cristo Rey helps more than 10% of students attend summer enrichment programming around the city, country, and world in preparation to compete for admission and resources as first-generation college students. With the ongoing public health crisis halting most of these programs, three proud Cristeras took the initiative to apply for and gain acceptance into the competitive, and now virtual, 2020 Summer Exelon STEM Innovation + Leadership Academy.
While this free, week-long, overnight STEM leadership program for young women was originally scheduled to take place at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the program has gone virtual and provided each student an Apple iPad, tools, materials, and even snacks to virtually spend a week "learning about energy and STEM in fun, interactive ways," hearing from "keynote speakers and panels of women leaders from across the city," participating in leadership development training, and concluding their experience with an "energy design challenge with cool prizes."
Rising junior Sofia explained her decision to participate in the virtual summer program: "I plan to study engineering in college because I'll get better at facing problems and have the chance to improve the world. I'm sad that it's not going to be at IIT, living in college dorms, but I'm still glad to be able to do something, even virtually." Classmate Isbeth, who was "interested in this program to learn more about careers in STEM and gain leadership skills," agrees about the move to virtual: "I'm just grateful I will have something to do!" Soon-to-be senior Emily "applied a week into e-learning and... knew it would be online," but was still interested because she says, "While it's childhood dream to become a comic artist, I enjoy science too much not to major in it next year."