Home Lifestyle Cordova Middle School students selected for STEM summer program

Cordova Middle School students selected for STEM summer program

Pictured left to right: Irving Esparza Vasquez, Edwin Esparza Vasquez. Photo by Richmond County Schools

Cordova Middle School eighth graders, Edwin Esparza Vasquez and Irving Esparza Vasquez, have earned coveted spots in the Step Up to STEM summer program at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Durham Campus. The one-week residential summer program is known for fostering skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among historically underrepresented groups.

“Participating in the Step Up to STEM camp will provide Edwin and Irving the opportunity to collaborate with like minded peers as they explore potential future careers in a fun and engaging environment. Their caliber of thinking and love for learning will be challenged in this innovative setting as they develop new skills, spark untapped interest, and apply their natural talents,” said Dina Gunnells, principal at Cordova Middle School.

The highly competitive program offers students an unparalleled opportunity to explore curriculum in ways rarely available during the standard school year. Participants are immersed in a diverse blend of science, mathematics, and biomedical engineering studies designed to challenge students and build their skills in STEM. Students who attend the first summer session as rising ninth graders are offered the opportunity to return for a second summer of programming where they will participate in a research-focused course.


Students accepted into the Step Up to STEM program are invited to attend free of charge thanks to the generous donations of Cisco Systems, the Anonymous Trust Foundation, and the Barber Fund for Underrepresented Minorities for STEM Leadership. Beyond the classroom, participants have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of on and off campus activities. Past events have included planetarium trips, university tours, baseball games, and STEM panels.

By participating in Step Up to STEM, Edwin and Irving are not only furthering their own education but also serving as role models for their peers, showcasing the possibilities within reach through determination and hard work.

“The staff at Cordova Middle School recognizes the fierce potential in these young men and looks forward to hearing about their long-term success story,” said Gunnells.

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