Jamira Hunter, a Talented Young Black Woman, Finds a Path in Nursing with the Help of a Comprehensive and Unique STEM Education Program

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Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail(For 10 years, STEM NOLA has led K-12 students in hands-on activities in STEM fields, inspiring children to learn about STEM jobs, careers, and how they apply to our world today. We have developed and implemented a strategy that brings STEM learning directly into under-resourced communities and ensures that low-income and children of color are part of the growing STEM ecosystem that will dominate the future economy. Periodically, during our 10th anniversary year, we will present profiles of our students, children, and young adults flourishing in STEM. Please post, publish, and display these stories so they can inspire more students to learn and experience STEM.)

Dedication, self-discovery, and a passion for learning are the hallmarks of Jamira Hunter’s remarkable journey. Her introduction to the world of STEM began in seventh grade when she first encountered STEM NOLA. This New Orleans program shaped her career path and influenced her approach to making a meaningful contribution to society.

Guided by her mother’s wisdom, Jamira and her brother, Jamal, embarked on a journey of exploration, immersing themselves in the hands-on STEM activities at STEM NOLA that would play a pivotal role in defining Jamiri’s desire to achieve academically and her ultimate decision to pursue nursing. They grew up and attended school in Baton Rouge, but their parents drove them nearly 100 miles to participate in STEM Saturdays in New Orleans.

“As a parent and educator, I am grateful my husband and I took advantage of the opportunity that allowed my children to participate in STEM NOLA from a young age,” says Mironda Hunter.

Further, she credits STEM NOLA for increasing their awareness of STEM skills. “It peaked their wonderment of research and “what ifs.” They discovered new interests and strengths and expanded their outlook on STEM careers and opportunities. They were placed in direct contact with STEM professionals who looked like them and made the missions and outcomes realities together. Jamira and Jamal are STEM majors at this time.”

A particularly memorable project for Jamira involved building and powering a model car. This hands-on experience ignited Jamira’s passion for learning by doing, laying the foundation for her love of applied sciences. “I learned how to build things with my hands, and it made me realize I like being hands-on with things; I should learn when touching,” she reflects.

This newfound appreciation for hands-on learning significantly influenced Jamira’s educational and career trajectory, steering her towards nursing—a field where science meets compassionate care. For Jamira, nursing is not just about diagnosis and treatment; it’s about holistic patient care and making a tangible impact on people’s lives.

As Jamira, now 21, progressed through high school, STEM NOLA helped solidify her interest in nursing, ultimately leading her to enroll at Southern University and A&M College. Reflecting on her journey, she notes, “STEM NOLA helped me realize I like learning about life and science from a life perspective. It helped me determine that I like learning about the human body and caring for people.”

Jamira’s story symbolizes the broader impact of STEM NOLA in helping young minds identify their passions. Central to her success is the mentorship provided by Dr. Calvin Mackie, the founder of STEM Global Action and its affiliate, STEM NOLA.

“I love him. He’s funny, and he is real. He’s a real role model,” says Jamira. “You know how some people put on a front; he’s real hands-on and nurturing. He’s caring, ensuring everybody’s okay and you have what you need. He’s real sweet.”

Dr. Mackie expresses his commitment to empowering young minds through STEM. “STEM education is not just about teaching,” he says, “it’s also about fostering a mindset of curiosity, resilience, and a passion for making a positive impact on the world and our communities.”

In pursuing a nursing career, Jamira finds fulfillment in the clinical experiences provided by her academic journey. These experiences serve a purpose similar to internships, equipping her with practical skills while ensuring a smooth transition into the professional realm. Jamira emphasized the significance of these clinical experiences, saying, “Because really with nursing, after every clinical [experience], you’re certified with more skills.”

Beyond academics, Jamira values the cultural environment of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) like Southern University and A&M College. The sense of community and shared aspirations create an environment where she feels comfortable learning, asking questions, and striving for success.

“As a Black woman, being surrounded by professors and peers who look like me is empowering. It makes me more comfortable to learn and ask questions,” she says, adding that her appreciation for HBCUs includes homecoming, football games, and community.

Jamira remains focused on her goal of becoming a nurse. Her aspirations extend beyond personal success; she aims to leverage her knowledge to educate her family and community about preventive healthcare, especially within the African American community.

“We have a lot of people in our family with high blood pressure and mental disorders. Nursing educated me to help educate my family and others on how to prevent getting these sicknesses,” she says.

Jamira’s advice to aspiring STEM enthusiasts is poignant: “If you’re interested in anything science-wise, you should go to STEM NOLA because there aren’t a lot of activities that allow you to get your hands actively engaged and get a feel for what you want to do in life. Sometimes, people wait too late until they already started college, still figuring it out. But if you start going to places like these, you can start narrowing down to target your career path instead of wasting time or waiting.”

Jamira Hunter, who recently started her third semester of clinical studies at Southern University School of Nursing, is blazing a new path and showing her community what’s possible with STEM education. Her story underscores the potential within every young mind eager to explore the wonders of STEM.

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ABOUT STEM GLOBAL ACTION

In 2013, Dr. Calvin Mackie founded STEM NOLA, a New Orleans non-profit committed to expanding STEM education, particularly in communities of color. His goal is to make STEM education available in ALL communities. In July 2021, Dr. Mackie launched STEM Global Action, a campaign and network of affiliates that pursue STEM education for children, parents, and communities. His initiatives have impacted more than 125,000 students, 20,000 families, and 5,150 schools across the U.S. and in five countries. Dr. Mackie holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from Morehouse College, as well as a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. An archive of the Let’s Talk STEM with Dr. Calvin Mackie podcast is HERE.

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For broadcast or print interviews with Dr. Calvin Mackie contact Michael Frisby at mike@frisbyassociates.com or 202-625-4328.