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Eye On Education: MIT Mentor Inspires Underrepresented Students To Get Involved In STEM

LEXINGTON (CBS) – Chiamaka Agbasi-Porter is the K-12 S.T.E.M. Outreach Coordinator at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington.

Her passion is reaching young people's minds through the Lincoln Laboratory Radar Introduction for Student Engineers (LLRISE) program.

Jamal Grant, now a graduate student at MIT and Harvard, is one of her many success stories. He met Agbasi-Porter when he was in ninth grade during a science program at his Boston school.

Grand said when he first started that program with Agbasi-Porter, he actually came for the free pizza and ended up staying for the robot battles.

"I started to not just see myself as a sports player or a student athlete," Grand told WBZ-TV. "But a student-athlete and potential engineer."

And when Agbasi-Porter's career led to her to Lincoln Laboratory, she ended up carving out a path for Grant to get there too.

"I told him, 'I can introduce you to different engineers,'" Agbasi-Porter said. "Especially engineers that look like him."

Grant said he would go to the lab during Christmas break or any point he had free time.

"So I would do tours, I would connect with engineers, particularly Black engineers," Grant said.

For over a decade, Agbasi-Porter has welcomed groups of high school seniors to the lab, coordinating more than 20 programs. And she encourages underrepresented students including women, minorities and low-income families to apply.

Agbasi-Porter believes that is the key to closing the achievement gap.

"I think of it as a community, we are a village that is helping our kids advance and move forward in their careers," Agbasi-Porter said.

Grant has now started a mentoring group of his own and says he would not be where he is today with Agbasi-Porter.

"If I were to ever write a book. she would be in chapter one," Grant said. "Because Chiamaka has had so much to do with my moral compass, my desire to pay it forward."

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