Alejandra Ceja is the Executive Director of the Panasonic Foundation. Ms. Ceja has extensive experience in education advocacy and is passionate about the academic and social success of students in underserved communities. Formerly, Ms. Ceja served as the Executive Director of White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics at the U. S. Department of Education. She has also served as a Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Education and as Senior Budget and Appropriations Advisor for the House Committee on Education and Labor. In 2015, she was awarded the Marshall Memorial Fellowship from the German Marshall Fund to prepare leaders from the U. S. and Europe for transatlantic relations.
In this conversation, Ms. Ceja offers her perspectives on the importance of the S2S Newark Technology Center, the importance of educational equity and the role Students 2 Science can play in bringing about that equity.
What do you think of the impact of the S2S Newark Technology Center?
S2S Newark Technology Center is a game changer for students in Newark and for us as a country, to be able to provide more students with hands-on access to innovation and technology. The impact for students is infinite – this is definitely a 21ST Century workforce gaining skills at its best.
What brought about the partnership between Panasonic Foundation and Students 2 Science?
At the Panasonic Foundation, we are invested in educational equity. After learning about the work and mission of Students 2 Science and the S2S Newark Technology Center, it was a no-brainer for us. This is an opportunity for us to align our efforts. Students 2 Science is a model for corporate sponsors, non-profits organizations, parents, community leaders to get involved and to invest in the future of our students and by doing so we are supporting a non-profit that’s going to put students first.
The uniqueness about working with Students 2 Science is that we are helping address an issue that we see across the country. The harsh reality is that a lot of students, predominantly low-income students of color – e.g. Latino and African-American students – do not have access to the full range of STEM courses in their schools. To have a non-profit that is centered right in the heart of your community, to be able to provide that service and also help our teachers when it comes to science curriculum – this is really what it is about and this is what most communities should be looking at in terms of motto and best practices.
How do you see the future of this partnership?
This collaborative partnership between the Panasonic Foundation and Students 2 Science is one of many I hope, in terms of partnerships and opportunities to address those critical issues we know our students are facing. Most importantly, it’s going to allow us to work together to close the opportunity gap that we know exists when it comes to offering students access to STEM curriculum.