In today’s rapidly changing world, science, engineering, technology, and critical issues related to our global environment are evolving at a dramatic pace. Yet the worldwide demand for college graduates prepared for careers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is not being met. This is especially true in the United States, where many of our most promising youth do not pursue opportunities in these areas. One of the most important national resources in the 21st Century and beyond will be talent: smart, sophisticated young people who are technologically literate, globally astute, and operationally agile; who both understand the complexity of the greatest challenges facing our global society and have technical expertise in specialized areas; and who possess the abilities to collaborate, innovate, and lead. We believe Chicago area youth possess these skills, and saw the need to cultivate their talent.
The Illinois Tech Global Leader Program honors the legacy initiatives of Mr. Nate Thomas, whose Early ID (Early Identification) program two decades ago became the standard bearer for creating access and opportunity for Chicago-area high school students in STEM fields. Today, hundreds of alumni of IIT and other colleges and universities mark their experience in IIT’s Early ID program as a formative moment in and truly transformational influence on their lives. We see it as a model for us to build upon.
Founded in 2011, the Illinois Tech Global Leaders Program (then called the IIT Boeing Scholars Academy) began with the generous support of a Boeing Company grant. What began as a one-year STEM enrichment program quickly grew. It became clear that there was more for us to offer, and more ways for our Scholars to grow. Our program continues to grow as we develop more opportunities and explore new possibilities.
Our program would not be where it is today without the vision of Jerry Doyle, Illinois Tech Vice Provost for Student Access, Success, and Diversity Initiatives; the dedication of founding Program Director Marya Spont (2011-2013); the guidance of Megan Mozina, Program Director (2013-2014); and the leadership of IIT Presidents John Anderson (2007-2015) and Alan Cramb (2015-present). We would also like to acknowledge past Program Coordinators Connie Ma (2012-2013), Ross Ludwig (2013-2014), and Katherine Rhee (2013-2014); and all of the past Program Instructors, Interns, Faculty Mentors, Volunteers, and other supporters who have contributed to the growth and success of the Illinois Tech Global Leaders Program.