The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


The student news site of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology


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BEYA hosts interest meeting for national conference

S. Kotamraju
Guest speaker, Jesse McCurdy, explains many areas of interest BEYA can help members with in the lunch interest meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 1. “We can bring any questions and help with passion projects when we come to the meetings,” sophomore Koby Odo said.

Becoming Everything You Are (BEYA) hosted its first interest meeting of the year during lunch on Wednesday, Nov. 1, with guest speaker Jesse McCurdy. 

BEYA was founded to introduce young students to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. McCurdy was the Deputy Assistant Commander for Research and Engineering and was a member of the elite U.S. Government Senior Executive Service.

“We’ve seen a great deal of progress,” McCurdy said. “We have an issue with following kids once they go to college because they [are] all over the place but we do track young people graduating from high school and we’ve seen where young people go. I would say 70-75% of them go on to college.”

The program was founded in 1987 by Dr. Tyrone Taborn. 

“Dr. Taborn is a person who is associated with many different organizations such as women of color and others that are all primarily concerned with getting students interested in STEM,” McCurdy said. “That is primary but even secondary, getting them interested in college and to understand the value of college.”

BEYA not only establishes a secure future for its members but allows them to build their social network through exposure to unique careers and conferences. 

“I found a great interest in it because of the fact that they would bring mentors on to talk to us about their job, what they do, and how they got there,” sophomore Fola-Sie Zaumu said. “From learning and hearing all [of] those different experiences I started understanding the value of going to those meetings for my future.”

The BEYA STEM Global Competitive Conference takes place annually at the beginning of February.

“There is one thing that you don’t have to do, but is definitely something that I would encourage. [It] is going to the conference,” Zaumu said. “The conference is going to be [on] Feb. 16 next year and it is definitely [an] important thing. You don’t have to try out or apply, you just practically tell Ms. [Andrea] Smith that you want to sign up and last year we just went by bus to DC.”

At these conferences, everyone from kindergarten through high school seniors, recent college graduates, and currently employed workers have opportunities to network with current professionals in STEM fields, including the corporate, military, government, and industry paths.

“Last year, I went to the conference and was able to talk to a US marshal and a neurosurgeon. I even have their phone numbers,” Zaumu said. “I [was] able to network with very high-earning people and become a mentee to a family doctor who I’ve talked to on numerous occasions.”

BEYA also offers members a chance to thrive in their own communities.

“What interested me to join BEYA was to be a part of a space that valued mentorship and making connections,” sophomore Koby Odo said. “It is a space that represents black people thriving in STEM and that inspired me to join. For me, BEYA can offer a way to dive deeper into my STEM interests and find a great community that fits me.”

With the busy lifestyle of Jefferson students, the BEYA program fits right in.

“It’s just once a month, [and] it’s not really a huge commitment,” Zaumu said. “Usually JLC days during lunch, it’s a 40-minute meeting and you go and listen to the new mentors.” 

The social network, exposure to career choices, and the opportunity to learn from mentors make BEYA a recommendable program.

“I told my friends you have to come because it is a really good thing,” Zaumu said. “I’m really trying to get the word out to people because I truly believe that it is beneficial and you’re able to do a lot from going to the conference and to the meetings. I mean, I know a lot more about what it means to be a doctor and to become who I want to be.”

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