The Georgia Chief Science Officers program welcomed a new class of 40 student leaders last month at its second annual Leadership Training Institute at Georgia Tech. The middle and high school students, who had been elected by their schools as Chief Science Officers (CSOs) last spring, participated in sessions to enhance their leadership, networking, and project planning skills. This training kicks off a year of professional development and coaching for the students, empowering them to create positive change in their communities that enhances awareness and access to STEM opportunities for their peers.

“Seeing all of the students at the institute so eager to make an impact in their schools and communities was truly inspiring,” said CSO Samantha, a member of our Georgia Leadership Council. “I absolutely cannot wait to see what they will accomplish throughout this year. Without this program, I would not be the leader I am today and never would have had the opportunities and connections to people all around Georgia that I do now. I wholeheartedly believe this program is making a difference in STEM around the world and will continue to do so.”

To emphasize our focus on student leadership, the training sessions were led by students on the Georgia CSO Leadership Council (Samantha, Skylar, Aditya and Andy) together with visiting students from the CSO International Leadership Council. We were honored to have a panel of STEM professionals from NCR, UPS, and AT&T, as well as exhibitors from the Georgia Space Grant Consortium, Georgia Tech Research Institute, and Atlanta Science Festival.

“It has been my privilege to be a part of the CSO program in Georgia since its inception,” said Mike Lalle, industrial engineer at UPS and member of the CSO program steering committee. “One of the most impressive aspects of this year’s Leadership Training Institute was the level of ownership and camaraderie exhibited by all of the students involved. From the visiting CSOs and alumni providing guidance and support, to the Georgia Student Leadership Council conducting the modules, and this year’s Georgia CSOs exhibiting teamwork and recognition throughout the workshop, it’s evident that this is truly a program ‘for students, by students‘.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to be involved, and I look forward to seeing our continued growth and evolution!”

Ultimately, the CSOs developed Action Plans to enrich the STEM communities at their school. Students’ initial plans include running a science book club, producing regular STEM-themed morning announcements, constructing an outdoor classroom, …… In the coming weeks, CSOs will refine these ideas in collaboration with their Site Advisors, pitch their Plans to their principals, and then lead the changes at their schools and in their communities. This year is off to an exciting start, and we can’t wait to see how our Chief Science Officers will change the world.

See pictures below!