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Korean fried barbeque: the unexpected origins of Sprout and S.T.E.M.

Victor M. Hunt

Jul 25, 2019

The past experiences of a recent college graduate and the present conditions of public education converge to yield a nonprofit organization.

My name is Victor M. Hunt, director of the Sprout and S.T.E.M. organization.

While I have you, I want to take the opportunity to introduce myself and provide some context as to how Sprout and S.T.E.M. came to be.

The inspiration for Sprout and S.T.E.M. was nothing more than a regular conversation amongst old friends. This particular conversation occurred at Den Den Korean Fried Chicken on Thayer St. in Providence. At some point throughout our meal, my childhood friend and former neighbor Teddy Fenton referenced a recent Johns Hopkins publication focusing of the chronic underperformances of the Providence public school district. Sadly, this report identified substandard learning conditions in a deteriorating school system where students faced unproportional academic obstacles.

It was there, while eating fried chicken and rice, that I made the decision to make a tangible contribution to the Providence community.

The culmination of my love for science, tutoring, and public education has motivated me to serve the disadvantaged public high school students of Providence. With a newly polished bachelor's degree in biological sciences, I felt capable of providing high school students with academic supplementation in the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics. I imagined this supplementation to be inclusive of concept review, homework help, and test preparation.

As a former genetics and organic chemistry tutor at the University of Rhode Island, I had routinely attempted to provide myself as a resource in peer education. I was prepared to do the same at the high school level. Relieving the frustration and confusion of my peers was the most rewarding aspect of my job.

I am fortunate to have been raised in a family where the importance of education has been valued as priority. Graduating from an urban public high school has granted me perspective on the academic challenges of city schools. Looking back, I strongly believe that a number of students were forgotten in system separated by the select-enforcement of academic accountability and expectations. I sensed that a number of students advanced through school without personal expectations or sufficient advising. It appeared they believed post-secondary education was unattainable. Regardless of the availability of honors and AP courses, and counselors and staff, they lacked the skills and guidance to perpetuate their education.

Any student without family support or encouragement may trivialize the regard for academic and professional success. I firmly believe that additional resources and networking would have fostered higher standards and expectations among this underperforming portion of former high school peers.

Sprout and S.T.E.M. was founded on the premise that academic expectations, supplementation, and professional networking improves the quality of student performance. Many of us would consider this intuitive. The program aims to stimulate interest in science and math among students who lack direction, while improving the readiness and skills of students seeking post-secondary education. The effort of our mentors, staff, and contributors ultimately empowers students to enhance their circumstances through access to education.

Sprout and S.T.E.M. appreciates your interest in the betterment of students in the Providence public school system. I want to personally thank you for taking the time to read the details of our founding. We hope to see more of you.


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