About 200 youth immersed in science, business through Santa Rosa chamber program

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Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce will hold a graduation Friday for about 200 area eighth graders who participated in its Mike Hauser Academy, a three-week immersive summer science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program.

Nearly 50 area businesses joined in the program. Officials with the chamber said it aims to create and encourage interest in STEM programs among students about to enter high school by interacting with engineers and professionals, observing demonstrations and participating in hands-on activities that reinforce classroom math and science lessons.

Of the most recent class, 78% come from low-income households, and 77% are English language learners, organizers said.

The program “tackles head on issues of equity in our education system and produces real results—even a rocket scientist!” , stated Peter Rumble, CEO of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber, in announcing the graduation plans.

The chamber cited one previous Hauser graduate who actually did go on to work in the field of science --Nikko Mendoza, who graduated from the University of California Davis with a degree in Aerospace Science and Engineering.

“The academy has made a huge impact on my life,” Mendoza states in the Metro Chamber announcement. “I never knew what an engineer was or did until I attended the academy. I was very fortunate to be in this program where I was able to visit excellent companies that contributed significant experiences that shaped my aspirations to become a student of science, math, engineering, and curiosity.”

Launched in 2008, the academy was the vision of the late Mike Hauser, former CEO of the Santa Rosa Chamber and began with four business partner sites: Agilent Technologies (now Keysight Technologies), JDSU (now Viavi Solutions), Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Medtronic.

Graduation is planned Friday at Sonoma State University’s Mt. Everest Gym (inside the Recreation Center) with morning tours of the university, a Q&A panel of current college students and Academy Alumni, and a graduation ceremony from noon to 1 p.m.

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