The first-ever Whitney Andrews Lang YES! Success award presented to YES! Team student in the amount of $10,000.
Tampa, FL (Oct. 15, 2014) –Tampa’s Museum of Science & Industry, along with presenting sponsor Bright House Networks, celebrated their 2014 honoree for the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year, Dr. Rafael Bras and inaugural 2014 Early Career National Hispanic Scientist of the Year recipient Dr. Ana Maria Rey at an awards gala on Saturday night, following several impactful events throughout the weekend. Highlights of the weekend included a teacher professional development workshop, more than 1,300 students from underserved communities enjoying a day of mentoring with these prestigious scientists and a senior YES! Team member being presented the first-ever $10,000 YES! Success award.
To kick-off the three-day event, MOSI, in conjunction with Hillsborough County Public Schools, hosted the first in a series of teacher professional development workshops focused on the integration of S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) in the classroom. These workshops will continue throughout the school year and focus upon one of the independent content disciplines of S.T.E.A.M. in an effort to increase teacher content knowledge and general understanding of the current research in these areas. After collaborating with fellow teachers on the importance of S.T.E.A.M. integration, teachers were able to enjoy lunch and a question and answer segment with the Dr. Bras, Dr. Rey and Carrie Scheiner, CEO and founder of Exploracise, a program that creatively teaches math facts during a complete workout.
On Friday, Oct. 10, more than 1,300 students from underserved communities and low-income schools experienced an exciting day of mentoring with Dr. Bras and Dr. Rey at MOSI’s Meet the Hispanic Scientist Day. The students also had access to over 450 MOSI hands-on exhibits and experienced the film Islands of Lemurs: Madagascar in the Florida Hospital IMAX® DOME Theatre.
On Saturday night, MOSI held the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year gala. This year’s gala raised more than $550,000 in funding and exposure for MOSI’s YES! Team (Youth Enriched by S.T.E.A.M.). The YES! Team is a career and educational enrichment program designed to help at-risk youth, between the ages of 13 and 17, develop and progress in a supportive peer-group environment. Established in 1992, the focus of the program is to provide an opportunity for students to develop self-confidence, improve communication skills, build self-esteem and exhibit leadership skills. In addition, students are encouraged and motivated to pursue S.T.E.A.M. both as a career and as an essential element of their total education.
For the first time in the event’s history, a senior member of the YES! Team was awarded the Whitney Andrews Lang YES! Success Award in the amount of $10,000. This award is given to students who demonstrate their desire and ability to overcome barriers and achieve their goals, earn a minimum GPA, demonstrate excellent leadership skills, are community-focused through their extracurricular activities, and plan to enroll full-time in a degree or certificate program directly following high school. Sydney Seekford, the award’s inaugural recipient, is a senior at King High School and has been a dedicated member of the YES! Team for over three years.
“The YES! Team has made such a difference in my life – taught me to be a leader, given me opportunities to engage in my community, and allowed me to become who I am today,” said Seekford. “Without the YES! Team, I can’t tell you how my last few years would have been, but certainly they would have lacked something special.”
“Sydney Seekford has displayed exemplary leadership and self-confidence throughout her time with the YES! Team. She is a shining example of what the YES! Team spirit is all about, making her an excellent candidate for the first-ever Whitney Andrew Lang YES! Success Award,” said Molly Demeulenaere, interim CEO. “We plan to continue to change the lives of many other local, at-risk youth through the YES! Team and the Whitney Andrew Lang Center for Learning at MOSI.”
For the past 14 years, MOSI has recognized nationally distinguished Hispanic science and engineering professionals to serve as role models and mentors for Tampa Bay’s Hispanic youth. Past honorees include a former U.S. Surgeon General, a Nobel Laureate of Chemistry, a NASA astronaut, a marine biologist, a Harvard professor of pathology and former chief of immunogenetics at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The idea for the development of this award at MOSI came from local business woman Maruchi Azorin Blanco, who was greatly concerned by the statistics showing an alarmingly high dropout rate for Hispanic students. At the time, the Department of Education research showed that Hispanics were more likely to drop out of high school than any other ethnic group in the U.S. While improving, these trends are persisting and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the 2012 dropout rate for Hispanic students was 13% compared to 8% for African Americans and 4% for Caucasians. 
About MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry)
MOSI is a not-for-profit, community-based institution and educational resource dedicated to advancing public interest, knowledge, and understanding of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) and is home to the Florida Hospital IMAX® DOME Theatre, the only dome theater in the state of Florida. MOSI’s core ideology is to make a difference in people’s lives by making science real for people of all ages and backgrounds. MOSI gives away more than $3 million in free memberships each year, $250,000 in free tickets annually, and approximately 400 scholarships each year for children to attend MOSI Summer Science Camps. Additionally, MOSI’s education staff works closely with area teachers offering free training and support for area science educators. With a total size of more than 400,000 square feet, MOSI is the largest science center in the southeastern United States. Learn through play inside Kids In Charge! the largest Children’s Science Center in the nation or The Amazing You—a 13,000-square-foot exhibition on health and wellness. Conquer your fears on MOSI’s Sky Trail® Ropes Course and Zip Line. Budding inventors can engineer anything imaginable and hold it in the palm of their hand in MOSI’s technology playground and inventor’s studio, Idea Zone; and aspiring astronauts can travel to the moon to operate a lunar colony in Mission: Moonbase, funded in part by NASA. MOSI is the proud winner of the 2009 National Medal for Museums by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the nation’s highest honor for museums. For more information on MOSI, visit www.mosi.org.