Building the STEM pipeline one story at a time

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Building the STEM pipelineWhen she was a little girl, SAS Senior User Experience Designer Khaliah Cothran’s parents gave her a creativity building set. She fell in love with building models of all kinds, from cars and trains to merry-go-rounds. And just like that, an engineer was born.

A few years later, Cothran happened to be watching The Oprah Winfrey Show with her mom when SAS CEO Jim Goodnight appeared on the popular daytime talk show. As a teenager interested in STEM disciplines, Cothran was impressed by Goodnight’s description of his company, and when she heard that SAS was in Cary, North Carolina – just a few hours from her hometown of Burlington – she committed it to memory.

Cothran studied engineering in college and, after graduation, entered the PhD program in industrial and systems engineering at North Carolina A&T. All the while, she kept SAS in the back of her mind, and when she had the chance to join SAS as an intern, she jumped on it.

SAS Senior Machine Learning Developer Funda Gunes has a similar story. As a little girl, Gunes liked to impress her grandfather with her ability to quickly solve math problems. As she grew older, she became interested in applied math and, eventually, high-level statistics.

Her passion for statistics brought her from her home country, Turkey, to the United States, where she pursued a PhD in statistics at North Carolina State University. After graduation, she came to SAS, where she now works on some of our most cutting-edge technologies, including machine learning.

Every woman at SAS has her own STEM story. But what about the little girls who never had that “a-ha moment” around math, science, or engineering? Or the ones who had the passion, but not the support? If we are to solve the problems of the future, we can’t lose out on any little girls or boys. We need each one to write their own story.

It’s a tall order. The barriers women and minorities face when pursuing careers in STEM are complex and variable. There is no one simple solution. But it’s clear that strong economies require highly educated STEM professionals. And at SAS, we’re committed to building the STEM pipeline from preschool through college and beyond.

Our commitment to education is all about making sure that every kid has a successful STEM story to share, no matter where they live, or what their parents do. And it doesn’t stop there. We support women here at SAS, by ensuring that there are women leaders at every level of the company, and providing benefits that make it easy to balance work and life.

Recently, Emily Baranello, Education Practice Vice President of Sales, was named as one of the top 100 corporate women leaders in STEM (Baranello is highlighted on page 180). As the leader of Education Practice, Baranello doesn’t simply lead by example, she leads a team that makes a tangible difference in the lives of women and girls all over the world.

What’s your STEM story? Tell us in the comments below.

SAS’ Commitment to Education

SAS offers resources for learning, teaching and research for learners from K-12 and beyond. Every major industry needs more people with STEM training, and at SAS, we’re giving people the tools they need to advance their own education, one step at a time.

Through Curriculum Pathways®, we provide free resources to support K-12 education in science, mathematics, language arts, social studies and Spanish. Our interactive resources, tools and apps help classroom teachers and students build the skills they need to thrive as they move along in their educational journey.

With SAS® Analytics U, we offer free software, support and resources for learning, teaching and academic research, plus online communities where SAS users can connect, collaborate and share. This free software enables anyone with an academic email address to get started as a data scientist.

Want to learn more? Find resources about Curriculum Pathways and SAS Analytics U.

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About Author

Erin Arizzi

Erin Arizzi is a communications specialist at SAS. Before joining SAS, she worked in higher education as an instructor and researcher. She holds a PhD in communication studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied technology from a historical and cultural perspective.

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