As I reminisced over the past 20 months, I felt all kinds of emotions, both highs, and lows, as I contemplated the tough decisions we had to make in March 2020 in the wake of COVID-19. I remembered CABPES having to design virtual programs from scratch. Would we be successful teaching our students online engineering and math classes? Would our students, parents, and volunteers buy into this new way of learning that was thrust upon all humanity with no warning and no preparation?
Then, I thought about our survival and sustainability, realizing for the first time in 39 years, we would not be able to host our largest fundraiser in 2020, which was our Annual Student Awards Banquet. My concern was about our students not dressing up in their lovely attire and showcasing the engineering projects they had tirelessly worked on. I thought about our graduating seniors missing out on their senior prom. Also, I thought about our seniors not walking up to the banquet stage to give their long-awaited speech discussing their experiences in CABPES and future plans in front of hundreds of people.
Little did I know, with the “Faith of a Mustard Seed,” our programs would thrive! Tirelessly, we designed virtual programs that met the needs of our students in both the Junior Engineers, Tomorrow’s Scientists (JETS) Program and the Math Enrichment Program (MEP). We served more students during the Pandemic than in the history of our organization. Also, we hosted a first-ever virtual banquet and raised more funds at this event than ever before. This past summer, we added a summer Book Club to our suite of STEM programs.
CABPES engaged in many Zoom discussions and meetings on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in large part because of the earth-shaking murder of Mr. George Floyd. As an organization founded and built on African Americans’ struggles and lived experiences working in STEM, we welcomed a seat at the table on this topic. I met with companies and colleges throughout Colorado sharing how our vision and mission focused on DEI beginning in 1980. DEI is not new to the CABPES organization.
As the summer ended and school began, CABPES made a courageous decision to resume in-person programming in September 2021. We are off to a great start with our math tutoring program, SAT/ACT College Preparatory Program, and preparing a cohort of middle school students to compete in the Future City Competition in late January 2022.
Finally, we are planning to have an in-person JETS program starting in January 2022. Companies and colleges are excited in supporting us as we teach the students about “Engineering and Designing Smart Cities for Americans with Disabilities.” We plan to enroll 100 students in the JETS program. Be on the lookout, registration will start soon!
Dewey F. Brigham, Jr., Ph.D.
CABPES President and Executive Director