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EAFH13: Shifting Legacies – The 5 Saturdays STEAM Story

Welcome to the KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast, hosted on Grokshare.com and streamed on iTunes, Google Play, and Spotify.   You are listening to Episode #EAFH-13 with Dr. Dave Cornelius, founder of the 5 Saturdays STEAM program.

Shifting Legacies

We often think of legacies as being that of which belong to athletes, musicians, politicians, actors, and those in the spotlight.  I can remember statistics of Michael Jordan, Reggie Jackson, The Jackson Five albums, cyclist Lance Armstrong, Whitney Houston, President Barack Obama, and many others. These trend setters left an impression on certain aspects of my life.  I never think about my own legacy! I wonder how many of you think about your own legacy?  How will your family, friends, and community reflect upon you now and in the future?

Parents, family members, and community leaders have played the role of helping loved ones to shift legacy by sharing encouraging words, creating safe spaces, and being available as mentors.  Some have paved the way by paying for college and opening doors to careers that are only available through the familial connection.  We see the benefits reaped by those individuals in favor and how the possibility of their legacy is shifted because of good fortune.

And then there are those who by no fault of their own, do not have anyone to be their advocate or ally.  They do not have a roadmap to follow.  No doors are open for them and favors are often expected to be repaid in ways that are inhumane.  I think of the kids without parents in the gap years (16 to 18 years old) and they are no longer protected by the foster care system.  I ask myself, what can I do to help them with a roadmap or open a few doors that may shift their legacy?

The bigger question is do we want to stick with the status quo or make changes that can shift legacies?

In 2007, the 44th President of the United States during the democratic primary season began with this talk of hope and change, peppered with statements of “yes we can – si se puede”.  After Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States, something that seemed so foreign and unbelievable to me, I said “yes I can and yes I must”.  My goal was resolute, and my intentions were clear.  As written, “To whom much is given, much is expected”.

In 2009 I started to ponder what if I used the talents that I have been given to help high school students learn vocational skills that would potentially shift their legacy even if it was for one generation.  High school in my opinion is the scary time before reality sets in and we have to be responsible for our own survival.  You have to find your way by getting a job, going to college, joining the military, or you know, figure something out. The goal was to introduce people marginalized by economic limitations to a career in technology and business, that was powered by agile practices.  The goal was also to provide skills in job readiness and effective communications, filling skills gap to be prepared for the job market with resumes and the ability to communicate effectively.

I began a STEAM outreach program by using 10% of my salary to fund the infrastructure of a non-profit organization.  I asked my colleagues to join me to be learning facilitators and be mentors to 13 to 19-year-old high school students that were underserved by our society.  They said yes and trusted enough to attempt walking into activities that were new to them.  My friends were not teachers but industry professionals working in technology, marketing, finance and other fields.  But they were brave and came along for the ride.  More important they were willing to volunteer five (5) or more Saturdays to help with the success of the program.

It is hard to want to sacrifice when you are comfortable.  There were doubts about my ability to mobilize students to attend learning sessions and get industry professionals to help me get started.

My friend Robbie and Tammy joined me in 2015 and 2016 respectively.  Now Tammie and Robbie lead programs in California.  Robbie frequently gives me a hard time about convincing so many people to give time out of their busy schedule on a Saturday during the summer months.  The benefit is not only to High School students but also to industry professionals who are emergent leaders and contributors. Without the service of industry professionals volunteering this effort would be daunting.  Many thanks to their service.

I received great favor in 2015 when I got a letter in the mail from the White House and President Barack Obama, cheering me on for the work that I was doing in the STEM field.  STEM as you may know stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and I added “A” for Agile so I use STEAM instead.  My wife Carmen was super excited as the U.S. postal service delivery person came to the door with excitement and gave her the 13 x15 sized envelope.  She called me and told me the good news.  I was filled with joy and could not wait to get home that day.  I proudly hang that letter on the wall in my home and shared with friends and colleagues on the Internet.

The letter from President Barack Obama stated “I always appreciate hearing the perspective of engaged people like you, and I was moved by your determination to make a difference in the lives of others. To reaffirm our role as the engine that drives science and technology around the world, we must empower our Nation’s youth with a competitive education and the tools to make tomorrow’s breakthrough discoveries”.

The journey of shifting one’s legacy is not for the faint of heart.  My experience in the technology field showed me that diversity was not a priority. Recently, I worked for a Bio-Technology company and I was the only African American manager in the technology group in my division and that did not last very long because they were more concerned about cultural fit versus my capability. I challenged them to think about a culture add and not just a culture fit.  The experience of being the only one was nothing new to me, it began while I was in college studying computer science and continued throughout much of my career.  That lonely feeling of having to fit in all the time can be exhausting and demoralizing. This experience will be a constant challenge for women, people of color, and other gender diverse groups working in STEAM fields.

As a man of faith, I was given the opportunity to shift my spiritual legacy to

experience true love and eternal life.  When I find myself doubting what is possible for me, my reassurance comes from God, the creator of all things.  So, I give thanks for the progress made to date.

Today, we are serving students in three locations that include 1) Early College High School in Costa Mesa, CA, 2) Zoe Christian Fellowship in Whittier, CA and 3) University of Arizona campus, Tucson, AZ. I recently received feedback from my friend, Dr. David Martinez, principal at Early College High School, said the innovative 5 Saturdays program is invaluable for students. “We at Early College High School are very much excited to once again be hosting the 5 Saturdays Summer Program. The 5 Saturdays Summer Program is unique with providing students to learn STEAM-based skills that are not only vital in the IT and business industries but can be extended to virtually any 21st century career our young people wish to pursue. It is our job as a high school to have our student’s college- and career-ready upon graduation. The wealth of knowledge shared by the professionals who serve as the program learning facilitators is invaluable by allowing our students to see first-hand a variety of career-building skills they need to be impactful contributors in a global society. The activities, exercises and projects that are completed in the program enrich the Four Essential Cs we are striving our students to develop towards becoming college- and career ready: Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Communication.”

I would also like to thank the Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, Experis a Man power company, and KnolShare.org for sponsoring the 5 Saturdays STEAM summer workshops.  These companies are certainly practicing good corporate responsibility by giving to improve the lives of people in their communities. 

If you would like to learn more and donate to the cause, visit www.5Saturdays.org. My name is Dr. Dave Cornelius, servant leader for the 5 Saturdays STEAM program. Be well and continue to find your awesomeness.

Sponsors & Summary

We would like to thank our sponsor KnolShare for the continued support for this podcast.  Visit KnolShare.org to achieve your awesomeness through agile coaching and training, digital transformation strategy, agile organization development, lean business startup, and diversity and inclusion training.

We support lean thinking and agile life skills education through the 5 Saturdays program.  Visit 5Saturdays.org to donate your time, money, and knowledge.

Checkout Dr. Dave’s latest book Elastic Minds: What are you thinking? On Amazon.com.  You will also find his book Transforming your leadership Character: The lean thinking and agility way on Amazon.com.

Look for the KnolShare with Dr. Dave podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

The KnolShare with Dr. Dave Podcast is Streamed on GrokShare.com.

If you have any questions for Dr. Dave reach out on twitter @DrCorneliusInfo or @KnolShare.

This podcast and interview produced by Dr. Dave Cornelius

Until next time, find your awesomeness.  

Copyright 2019 KnolShare.