2016, in our fourth year as an organization, WCTD celebrated our first official CAP Alumni student, Luis Tolosa.  

Luis teaching students Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2015.

Luis teaching students Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2015.

Luis came to us through a referral from another Long Island not for profit organization, who shared with him the opportunity to be a part of our student program. He was the second student to be invited to shape what is today our Community Ambassador Program. He was immersed in technology and leadership experiences beginning on a trip to Philadelphia, where Luis lead a program teaching 100 plus students how to design video games using XboxOne. This once shy student quickly demonstrated that he was a natural at teaching. Luis progressed from student to mentor and developed speaking and presentation skills as he facilitated panels and classes representing WCTD.  

Luis teaching Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2017.

Luis teaching Unity3D during WCTD CreatingIDEAS program in 2017.

This young student from Westbury School District came to us with an uncovered passion to learn and to give back to communities through volunteering and empowering other students. Over the past four years, Luis has donated hundreds of hours each year supporting WCTD.  He has designed curriculum, represented the organization at numerous programs, including ringing the bell to open the stock exchange in NYC alongside MSFT. He has taught students how to code, build PC's, design video games using Unity3D, and mentored students as a team lead at our annual CreatingSTEAM program. He has earned the highest honor from our organization to commit to our CAP program throughout his college years and is now a CAP Alumni, our very first to complete the CAP program from High School through College. Luis exemplifies the meaning of a Community Ambassador and we are honored as an organization to have him as our first CAP Alumni.

Near the end of his senior year of high school, Luis reached a milestone: he was accepted to college with a full scholarship to Columbia University. He would be the first to attend college from his family who immigrated to the United States from El Salvador. Luis graduated from Columbia University in May of 2016 with a degree in Computer Science. He now works as a software developer for a small startup company in his local community in Nassau County, NY. Luis was invited to speak as an honored alumnus to his high school's graduation. Luis continues to "pay it forward" as an Instructor and facilitator for We Connect the Dots, where he inspires students to discover their passion.  

Luis teaching PC Building in 2015

Luis teaching PC Building in 2015

Luis's trajectory from "inquiring student to mentor" represents the WCTD theory of change. WCTD aims to offer opportunity to underprivileged students and to students who cannot make a school to career connection on their own by partnering them with industry experts to mentor and immerse them in STEAM career related experiences. Afterwards, WCTD aims to develop those students to be able to share STEAM content, to choose an area in a STEAM/STEM field, and to commit to a path toward a career in innovation.

Community Ambassadors meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2016

Community Ambassadors meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in 2016

It is hoped that like Luis, more students will pay it forward and commit to a community of their choosing; to mentor, network, and share social capital. To facilitate that WCTD continues to work towards creating environments and opportunities for it to happen . WCTD is able to do so as a result of the work of LC Consulting, LLC, a for profit entity that works directly with schools, school districts, teachers and parents delivering programs, curriculum and professional development. A portion of its proceeds are used to support the opportunities that Luis and many others continue to be a part of.

Join us this fall at are our first annual Gala to celebrate STEAM education, where we will recognize Luis for his contribution as a WCTD Community Ambassador. Join our mailing list to stay informed regarding registration for this exciting first of its kind Gamified Gala in Westbury.

Posted
AuthorLaurie Carey

As I reflect on 2016, I would like to share with our community our organizational changes, our growth, and a look ahead into 2017. Instead of creating one long blog post that would be difficult for most busy people to find the time to consume, I will be posting a series of short blogs to ensure that each update gets the attention it deserves. I hope you find it informative and valuable. 

Organizational Changes

In 2016 we began to develop a more formalized structure to our Community Ambassador Program (CAP). In order to scale this program nationally it was important to design the protocol that would shape the future of the program. Led by our program manager Stephen Sobierajski, this program first took shape in 2013. Over the past four years, the CAP has supported students in gaining workforce experience and 21st century workforce skills.  Stephen shaped the program to ensure students gained the opportunity to be a part of the program development and design of what it is today. A program that enables students to be a part of running the WCTD organization and to gain real world work experience. Teaching students entrepreneurship and building their communications skills both in person and across digital platforms, through collaboration with our teams around the world. Stephen developed playbooks for not only the CAP, but for every program we deliver today. His efforts have provided our organization with the guidance needed to scale and support successful programs across the NY Metro, Darby, Pennsylvania and as far away as Australia. With his leadership, his strong work ethic, and passion for empowering students, Stephen designed the model for our CAP program and the Program Manager role. 

With Stephen as our Program Manager, the organization leaped forward and impacted students around the world. His leadership and drive provided the opportunity for me to build our for profit model to support our long term sustainability model. The foundation of the organization is stronger as a result of Stephen's hard work and passion for creating an impact for students.  

This short video of Stephen sharing why he enjoys working with We Connect The Dots really demonstrates his passion and drive to make a difference for students by supporting their success. 

Stephen moved on to an exciting new role in the fall of 2016. The move provided him the opportunity to be closer to home and to be a part of shaping a global program. I want to take this opportunity to thank Stephen for his contributions to our success, from all of us at WCTD, we miss you and wish you continued success. 

Posted
AuthorLaurie Carey