The U.S.-Mexico Foundation is proud to announce the successful completion of the first year of 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures, the first and, to this date, only STEM mentorship program for high school girls in Mexico. The program, implemented in Mexico by the USMF in collaboration with the Secretaria de Educacion Publica de Puebla, the New York Academy of Sciences and other allies and partners, featured personalized mentorship from female professionals in STEM, online trainings and a series of in person activities and workshops to help the 60 participating girls from low-income communities in the state of Puebla, Mexico, develop the self-confidence and skills they need to develop and achieve their professional goals. One year after the launch of this innovative program at an event in Puebla, Mexico, the USMF is proud to announce the successful completion of the first year of 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures and the life-changing impact it has had on the young women who participated in it.
Visit to New York
The young women participating in the program had the opportunity to visit New York City for 2 weeks as part of the program’s capstone experience. This unforgettable experience, the first international trip ever for the great majority of the participants, allowed the students to reinforce and practice the skills developed over the course of a year in the program while also opening their eyes to new cultures and experiences and previously unimagined possibilities. As one of the young women in the program said about the experience, “I had never left my community, I went to Puebla, I went to see Mexico City, and now I’m here in New York! Can you imagine? When I’m only 17 years old!”
During their time in New York, the girls visited iconic landmarks such as Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, rode the subway, and tried new and interesting cuisines, getting a taste for the history, diversity and dynamism of the city. The participants also had the opportunity to expand their horizons and practice their English interacting with students from different cultures and backgrounds at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Brooklyn College, where they also attended intensive English classes during their stay. One of the participants remarked on the experience; “you meet people, you get to know different cultures, you can relate.”
Another part of the learning experience during the trip included learning about the important contributions of the Mexican community in New York and more broadly in the United States. The visiting participants met with young Latina students and prominent members of the Mexican heritage business community and civil society, as well as Mexican professionals who have developed their careers in the United States. By learning about the accomplishments of the Mexican heritage community in the United States, the girls reinforced their pride in their roots and expanded their professional horizons by learning from Mexican heritage professionals who have succeeded in the United States.
A key component of this visit was the opportunity for the participants to further immerse themselves in the world of STEM. During their time in New York, the students visited the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Science Hall and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space museum. The girls also benefited from motivational talks from Mexican professionals who’ve developed their careers in STEM in the United States, at places like Columbia University and the architectural firm that designed the World Trade Center. Finally, the girls had the opportunity to choose their own STEM field trip, learn from renowned scientists and STEM leaders and meet other girls and mentors from different countries in the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures Program as part of the Global STEM Alliance Summit.
Graduation Ceremony in New York
On their last full day in New York City, the participants gathered with family members living in the United States, students, members of the Mexican community in New York and representatives from the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, the White House, the Secretaria de Educacion Publica, New York City government, the USMF and members of the press for a moving graduation ceremony to celebrate the girls accomplishments in the program. The speakers, including Don Jaime Lucero, a prominent Mexican businessman in New York and Patricia Vázquez, Secretary of Public Education in Puebla, congratulated the participants for their hard work and success in completing the program. The girls heard advice and best wishes from program mentors and teachers while also sharing their own experiences in the program and how it has made a difference in their lives and thanking everyone involved. As one of the participants said during the event; “I would like to thank this wonderful program, and all the people who helped make this dream a reality.”
A Successful Program
The graduation ceremony in New York marked the end of one year of hard work, lots of learning and a life changing experience for the young women in 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures. Over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year, the young girls worked with dedicated mentors who are female STEM professionals who helped guide and inspire them to pursue a career in these areas. The program also included a dedicated online portal allowing participants to communicate with other women who participated in this international program and helping the students develop critical skills including leadership and communication through online training.
In Mexico, the program included additional components, such as in-person classes on English, Leadership development, and other topics every Saturday, as well as taking trips to local universities, museums and corporation and benefiting from motivational talks from successful female STEM professionals.
The program achieved excellent results, having a great positive impact on the participants’ self-confidence and professional aspirations. Coming from communities were the role of women is traditionally thought to be in the home providing childcare, these young women gained the self-assurance and inspiration to aspire to professional careers, many of them in STEM. 98% of the program’s participants have applied to university, a rate not often seen amongst public school students in Mexico and over 80% of them are applying to study STEM related degrees.
1000 Girls, 1000 Futures was a life-changing experience for the young participants. As one student put it, “I got motivated by wanting to show the world, and the people around me that we women are really made to get ahead, to change the world, and to be the owners of our own destiny.” Another added that “this program has changed my life in many ways. I realized that there are many more opportunities for us women than I thought, and that I can achieve everything I propose to myself.”
The USMF is proud to announce the successful completion of the 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures Program following the capstone experience in New York City. The program represented a life changing experience for young Mexican women from low-income communities, helping them gain self-confidence, embrace the world of STEM, develop their professional aspirations and imagine new possibilities for their lives. We look forward to continuing to work with our mentors and our partners and allies to offer opportunities like 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures to more young women in Mexico.