Skip to main content

AmeriCorps VISTA member at the STEM Education Center deepens Worcester community partnerships

DEPARTMENT(S): 
July 20, 2021

The STEM Education Center continues to host AmeriCorps Campus Compact VISTA members to build WPI’s capacity in partnering with community-based organizations to provide engaging STEM/STEAM opportunities, especially for the K-12 Worcester Public School students. Jovietthe Ramos, an AmeriCorps VISTA member at the Center, has spent this academic year interacting with several nonprofits that serve K-12 students in an especially trying year of remote learning (and remote working for Jovietthe).

Inspired and motivated to follow the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jovietthe is dedicated to pursuing a career in public service to America. This is her second year serving with AmeriCorps. The previous year, Jovietthe served at the Chelsea Collaborative and led ESL (English as a Second Language) classes. Her strong interest in public service, public policy, and community development have enriched her background and experience as a visual design illustrator. Her artistic talent is reflected in her recent painting inspired by her work in STEAM education.

Jovietthe’s VISTA project is to build a sustainable STEM/STEAM outreach infrastructure for WPI volunteers, including Teacher Preparation Program students, to work effectively in the Worcester community with different nonprofits on a consistent basis. Her project also aims to increase the volunteer base at WPI itself.

With COVID forcing K-12 schooling online, Jovietthe created the virtual, live, hands-on STEAM Together program for students at community-based organizations (CBOs) and home. Guided by WPI volunteers as the presenters, this biweekly program enabled K-12 students to complete fun, engaging design challenges with peers. Several programs during the Fall and Spring seasons were facilitated by the WPI Engineering Ambassadors, and activities included packaging for crispy snacks, designing ziplines, and creating prosthetics for stuffed animals.

The expected outcomes of the VISTA project are K-12 students with improved academic engagement and social-emotional skills, organizations receiving capacity building services, and WPI volunteers recruited to serve in the Worcester community. Most of the K-12 students reached have been middle school students from the Worcester Public Schools through the Latino Education Institute (LEI) and the YMCA teen program. To ensure access to the hands-on STEAM programs, Jovietthe also provided assistance with gathering supplies and delivering them to the CBOs.

In addition, Jovietthe supported an elementary school learning hub at LEI with tutoring and STEAM activities. Jovietthe also implemented the STEAM Achievers program for the YMCA Central branch, in collaboration with Professor Suzanne Weekes. This virtual program was designed for teens to have informal conversations with STEM professionals and students about their work, their passions, and the paths they took. Topics included WPI undergraduate research, Army research, Air Force humanitarian aid efforts, and career exploration in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps.

Most recently, Jovietthe built upon her relationships with youth-serving CBOs to coordinate roughly 100 supply kits for the hands-on activities associated with TouchTomorrow. She delivered the needed materials to four different local nonprofits for experiences their youth might not otherwise have had.

Jovietthe wishes to continue supporting and training volunteers in civic engagement through AmeriCorps programs in alleviating poverty and making a positive impact on the lives of children, families, and communities.

Deepening the partnership with the Latino Education Institute through tutoring and the STEAM Together program.

Dropping off supply kits for the youth at the Boys & Girls Club in Fitchburg/Leominster to participate in TouchTomorrow.