Suburban Mosaic: Teen starts nonprofit to get more girls interested in STEM fields

  • Ruby Arun

    Ruby Arun

 
 
Updated 6/20/2022 6:17 AM

Growing up, mathematics always was a big part of Ruby Arun's life.

A first-generation Indian American, Ruby, 15, of Inverness, has been participating in school math teams since third grade.

 

But during the early months of the pandemic, Ruby saw her peers struggle with math and their scores started slipping without adequate in-person support.

It led her to create Mission: MathMinds, a nonprofit whose goal is "to create more interest in math fields at a younger age so that more girls are keen to join STEM fields in the future," said the incoming sophomore at William Fremd High School in Palatine.

Her nonprofit recently hosted a national conference on female role models in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields in Arlington Heights. Ruby sought to highlight math isn't just for nerds.

"You can be really interested in math and not be a genius," she said, adding that anyone who puts effort into learning math can get good at it.

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Initially, Ruby established a mentoring program for girls.

Girls in ninth through 12th grades would apply to become mentors based on their math abilities. They then would be paired with girls in elementary, middle or high schools who needed math tutoring.

Within seven months of launching the program in June 2020, the nonprofit hit its highest number of mentor/mentees with 100 people signed up.

Now, the group is shifting its focus away from mentorship to host more in-person events supporting its mission. Ruby and her team will be at the Palatine Jaycees Hometown Fest, July 1-2, to raise awareness and interest about girls in STEM fields. She soon plans to launch an extension to the missionmathminds.org website focused on creating a platform for women role models.

"We are really committed to making a difference here ... building the next generation of female leaders," Ruby said.

Flag raising

The city of Aurora held an inaugural Juneteenth flag raising Sunday, becoming the first city in the western suburbs to do so.

Sunday marked the 157th anniversary of the day when slavery officially ended in the United States. That's when U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and his Union troops traveled to Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3 ensuring all enslaved Black people were freed, in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln 2½ years earlier on Jan. 1, 1863.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Army Lt. Col. Shane Doolan, commander of the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion in Great Lakes, Illinois, was the guest speaker at the ceremony. Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin issued a proclamation for Juneteenth before the flag raising.

The city presented the Juneteenth Heritage Award to Masonic Keystone Lodge 15 in recognition of its commitment to preserving Aurora's Black History and honored 10 local youth with the Juneteenth Trailblazer Award for academic, athletic and community service accomplishments.

Juneteenth became a federal and state holiday last year. Aurora made it a holiday last February.

The Shiv Durga Hindu Temple recently opened its doors on the far east side of Aurora at 4315 Westbrook Drive. The building formerly was a Hix Brother's music store on the Fox Valley Mall campus. It's the second Hindu temple to open there in more than 35 years.
The Shiv Durga Hindu Temple recently opened its doors on the far east side of Aurora at 4315 Westbrook Drive. The building formerly was a Hix Brother's music store on the Fox Valley Mall campus. It's the second Hindu temple to open there in more than 35 years. - Courtesy of City of Aurora
New Hindu temple

Hindus in the Aurora area have a new temple for worship services and educational classes.

The Shiv Durga Hindu Temple recently opened its doors on the far east side of Aurora at 4315 Westbrook Drive. The building formerly was a Hix Brother's music store on the Fox Valley Mall campus.

Led by Priest Puja Shanti Prasad Shastriji, the temple held a grand opening ceremony welcoming more than 400 families from Aurora and neighboring communities.

Aurora's first Hindu temple -- the Balaji Temple on the city's west side -- opened in 1985 and draws thousands of worshippers from throughout the western suburbs. The new Shiv Durga Hindu Temple will accommodate the growing suburban Hindu community.

Hispanic scholarships

Miller Lite is partnering with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities to provide $139,000 in college scholarships and leadership development opportunities through the association's ¡Adelante! Leadership Institute.

This is the 18th year for the The Miller Lite Brewed to be Bright scholarship program. In two decades, the program has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to Hispanic students.

Eligible Latino students in the United States and Puerto Rico can apply online through July 31.

A total of 29 scholarships between $2,500 and $5,000 will be awarded to Latino college students 21 years or older; who attend a HACU-member institution in participating states including Illinois; and are U.S. citizens, permanent residents or DACA recipients. Scholarship recipients also will get a spot at the HACU ¡Adelante! Leadership Institute, the student track of HACU's annual conference in late October.

For more information or to apply, visit hacu.net/hacu/Scholarships.asp.

World Refugee Day

The 20th anniversary of World Refugee Day -- designated by the United Nations -- will be observed June 20.

In recognition of World Refugee Awareness Month, World Relief has compiled a list of resources to help you learn more about refugees, resettlement and global mass displacement. Find information at worldrelief.org/blog-20-ways-to-learn-more-about-refugees/.

The number of people forced to flee conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution has surpassed 100 million for the first time on record, according to a new U.N. Refugee Agency report.

The agency's Global Trends report shows 27.1 million refugees and 4.6 million asylum-seekers worldwide. The global rise in the number of forcibly displaced people is propelled by new waves of violence or protracted conflict in countries, including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Nigeria, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The war in Ukraine has displaced more than 7 million people internally, and created more than 7.3 million refugees fleeing conflict.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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