Teenage brothers Lovonte and Jordon Adams from Raleigh, North Carolina haven’t graduated high school yet, but they’re already helping educate one of American’s most at-risk communities about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The brothers, who are African American, are volunteering their free time at labs and testing sites in Raleigh, where they provide virus testing to primarily Black residents, a group disproportionately at risk for the virus in the U.S., though they represent only a small portion of the population.
“It’s helped me find new experiences [and] opened up doors for me,” Lovonte told Good Morning America. “You’re helping the community, you’re helping people.”
The boys joined the STEM Student CO-OiP- Community Outreach, Opportunities and Innovation Project, which was created with assistance from Justice Served NC, a nonprofit for underserved youth, and Vero Diagnostics, a medical lab in North Carolina. Launched by Dr. Anita Jackson, the project is a way for minority students to engage in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) while giving back to their community.
“I trained them about how to do COVID testing safely … how they didn’t need to be afraid of the virus but how COVID testing helps to protect you,” Dr. Jackson told GMA.
The boys hope their participation will encourage people in their community to take precautions against the virus.
“I’m hoping that people will realize that because of what we are doing in the community that they should come out and take it more serious,” Jordon said.
Since the start of the pandemic, the brothers, 15 and 17, struggled with homelessness, from sleeping in cars to staying in hotels, after their parents were furloughed from work. However, Justice Served NC founder Diana Powell, Vero Diagnostics, and Dr. Jackson teamed up to help the teens and their family obtain a townhouse to call home.
Now, they can focus on their future. Both brothers want to pursue careers in STEM. Jordan wants to be a doctor and Lovonte is considering a future career as a sixth grade science teacher.
“I can see myself being some sort of scientist down the line,” he told GMA.
Are you looking for some STEM inspiration? There are many success stories of how volunteers, partners, educators and students are making a positive impact in the world either either by solving problems through creative innovations or are inspiring the next generation with engaging programs. Explore the resources on the IEEE TryEngineering Volunteer STEM Portal to read their stories and to share in their successes.