Baseball hero Reggie Jackson visits WATC to encourage STEM education for minorities

Mr. October is stepping up to the plate to encourage minority students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

Reggie Jackson, World Series MVP and MLB Hall-of-Famer, visited WATC’s main campus, the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT), on May 10. His message: STEM careers are in high demand, but not enough minorities are pursuing them. The event was coordinated by Pat George, Kansas Secretary of Commerce, Chuck Alderson from the Kansas Department of Commerce, and Jim Fly, WATC Executive Director of Advancement and Career Services.

Jackson, whose Mr. October Foundation for Kids champions technology education for at-risk children, toured WATC’s main campus and interacted with students. He spoke to WATC administration, aviation executives from every major OEM in Wichita, as well as city, county and state government officials. His visit concluded with a press conference for local media.

African Americans and Hispanic Americans comprise up to 15.4% of the U.S. Population but less than 7.1% of computer and math workers. Furthermore, less than 4% of minorities graduating from high school are “engineering eligible,” according to the foundation’s website, By inspiring and nurturing kids at an early age and supporting their academic and early career pursuits, the Mr. October Foundation enables students to define their future and help to ensure our country’s economic and innovation leadership.

Jackson spoke with students in several WATC programs including Lakin Ballard, Architectural Design Technology, and Aaron Daney, Engineering Design Technology, and asked them about their career interests.

Daney said he is old enough to remember Jackson in the late 70’s to early 80’s when he was playing for the Yankees. He says he wasn’t a huge card collector, but he does still have one of Jackson’s. “He asked which of the companies present we would want to hire us. It felt he was doing us a favor personally by introducing us to potential employers.”

Wichita Area Technical College
4004 N Webb Rd
Wichita, Kansas, 67226
Phone: 316-677-9400