New REU Interns Pave the Way for Equity and Social Justice in STEM Education

Join us in welcoming our first cohort of Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) interns! We are thrilled to have them join us for the summer, where they will embark on STEM education research projects with a focus on fostering equity in STEM and STEM education while promoting transformative social justice. They will each have the opportunity to work closely with TERC researchers and their project teams, receiving mentorship and guidance throughout their journey.

As part of their experience, their mentors will help them receive training on essential education research methodologies, engage with critical issues and perspectives of social justice in STEM and education, and gain professional development to support their future pathways to graduate school, research careers, and other diverse career options.

Let's take a moment to highlight each of these exceptional interns and their unique aspirations!


Oumayma Dakhama

Wellesley College, Biochemistry and Middle Eastern Studies  


Mentors: Scott Pattison and Smirla Ramos Montañez 
Partnering with the IRCO Greater Middle East Center 
Project: Head Start on Engineering

Oumayma's interest in interning at TERC stems from the organization's commitment to fostering inclusivity and accessibility in STEM education. She aspires to contribute actively to the advancement of STEM education within MENA (Middle Eastern and North African) communities.

"As someone who hails from a background where Middle Eastern and North African communities in the U.S. face a lack of STEM resources, I am deeply passionate about addressing this disparity," explains Oumayma.

Oumayma is eager to gain hands-on research experience and work alongside experienced mentors. She emphasizes, "This will be my first experience with research and presents a valuable opportunity for me to develop a comprehensive understanding of the entire research process—from ideation to execution."


Devon Locke

University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma, Environmental Science and Political Science


Mentors: Mia Ong, Nuria Jaumot-Pascual, Lisette Torres-Gerald, and Christina Silva
Project: Native STEM Portraits

Devon's decision to intern at TERC was driven by the strong connection he felt with the research project, Native STEM Portraits

Devon shared, "The research with Native STEM Portraits is very in line with the work and research opportunities that I intend on focusing on. The perspective of completing the research through a social justice lens aligns with where I want to be in my future opportunities."

One of Devon's primary goals for this internship is to expand his research experience. Devon expressed his excitement, stating, "I have not had the opportunity to complete solo research outside of lab settings, so this internship is allowing me to gain a new experience that will influence what fields I decide to pursue in a graduate program."


Thomas Pree

Carleton College, Mathematics, Computer Science, Teaching License


Mentors: Teon Edwards and Jodi Asbell-Clarke
Project: INFACT

When asked about his motivation to become a TERC intern, Thomas expressed his excitement for delving into STEM education research and curriculum development that promotes social justice. Thomas is driven by the desire to become a more informed teacher and potentially pursue a career as an education researcher. 

As a TERC intern, Thomas has clear aspirations. He hopes to acquire valuable insights and skills from his mentors that will enhance his teaching abilities. Thomas stated, "I am hoping to take what I learn and become a better, more informed teacher, and potentially education researcher down the road." 

Thomas believes that the knowledge gained during his internship will help him to create a positive impact in the classroom and contribute to equitable educational practices in the future. Outside of his academic pursuits, Thomas finds joy in working with children and immersing himself in the great outdoors.


Genesis Santos

Baylor University, Elementary Education


Mentors: Scott Pattison and Smirla Ramos Montañez 
Project: Head Start on Engineering

As a McNair Scholar seeking summer research opportunities outside of her institution, Genesis was immediately drawn to TERC's commitment to social justice and equity in STEM education. Reflecting on her experience teaching math, science, and engineering to second graders, Genesis shared, "I loved teaching, and it made me interested in STEM education research. I wanted to intern at TERC because they are committed to social justice and equity, and my goal in research is to reject deficit notions and highlight the cultural wealth of communities of color."

Through this internship experience, Genesis aims to expand her understanding of how researchers and educators can better empower families and students. She also hopes to gain valuable research experience before applying to graduate programs. Genesis envisions utilizing the knowledge acquired at TERC to advance social justice and equity in various contexts. "Whether I am in the classroom, at a non-profit, or in higher education, I want to dedicate my life to serving and working with the Latinx community and other communities of color to make spaces more equitable for them. It is crucial to learn from them and ensure they are seen, heard, and validated. I believe my experience at TERC will help me become a better researcher, educator, and advocate," she emphasized.

Genesis' personal journey has also shaped her perspective on STEM education. Initially disliking STEM due to "a narrow view of what it was. I thought it was unfamiliar and difficult, and it did not connect with me culturally," she underwent a transformative experience while teaching.

“As a Latina, it brought me so much joy and fulfillment to see my students, who were all Latinx, enjoy math, science, and engineering because they could make connections from what they were learning to their personal experiences. I hope they realized that they are our future scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Latinx individuals and other communities of color are severely underrepresented in STEM, but they hold significant cultural wealth that is often overlooked by society. I am looking forward to having a similar transformative experience with TERC this summer.”


Core Silverman

Grinnell College, Mathematics 


Mentors: Teon Edwards 
Broadening Participation in Informal STEM Learners and Others Through Virtual Reality

Core, driven by a longstanding interest in social justice, actively sought an internship opportunity that would align with their passion. They shared, "I have been interested in social justice for a long time, and more recently, this has become a much more significant aspect of my life."

Through their TERC internship, Core expressed their aspirations, stating, "I want to build on my current understanding of social justice, especially how to facilitate cultural shift."

By immersing themselves in this internship experience, Core hopes to expand their expertise and contribute to the ongoing work of creating inclusive spaces where all students can thrive.


Ajia Toth

Marshall University, Computer Information Technology, Marketing and History


Mentors: Jodi Asbell-Clarke and Tara Robillard 
Project: INFACT

Ajia found TERC’s internship program while exploring summer REU opportunities. Ajia explained, "The program promotes social justice in STEM, which is something I am quite passionate about as someone who is considered a minority in my field of study."

As a TERC intern, Ajia is eager to learn and gain experiences that she can apply to her current studies. She aims to bring her newfound knowledge and insights back to her own community, with a focus on promoting a more structured and inclusive learning environment for students in both school and after-school programs. “Not every child has the resources or motivations they need in their life, and I want to encourage them with the same privileges and opportunities that I was blessed with.

Ajia expresses gratitude to her family, KY-WV LSAMP, Black United Students, and her professors for being instrumental in her journey thus far. “Their constant encouragements and support are what got me here in this exciting chapter of my life, and for that my gratitude is abundant.


Dana Vivar

Boston University, Statistics


Mentors: Audrey Martinez-Gudapakkam
Project: Doing the Math with Paraeducators

Dana's search for an internship that would allow her to explore a different outlook on education led her to TERC. Reflecting on her journey, Dana shared, "When I had my first non-related becoming-a-teacher education class, my interest piqued once again. It was the first class that presented education from a different perspective." Encouraged by her professor, who had previous associations with TERC, Dana decided to explore the program, finding a strong resonance with TERC's mission and values.

As a TERC intern, Dana aims to solidify her future career aspirations while leveraging her interests in mathematics and working with children. She expressed, "At the time, I thought my interests could only be applied to becoming a teacher, but I later learned that they can also be applied outside of the classroom. This internship is an opportunity that will allow me to further explore my interests whether that is through analyzing qualitative and quantitative data, having group discussions with students and teachers, and assisting in an overarching research project with a group of professionals, which all come together cohesively to improve school curriculum and increase student interest in education."

Excited for the chance to approach education in a new light, Dana recognizes the potential of this TERC internship to shape her future career path, and potentially lead her to pursue statistical research in the field of education.


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New REU Interns Pave the Way for Equity and Social Justice in STEM Education
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