One of my lifelong passions has been to broaden participation in traditionally exclusive spaces such as classical music, STEM, and higher education. After being one of a dozen Black students in my STEM-focused boarding high school, one of a handful in my undergraduate program, and currently the only one in my Ph.D. program, I continuously question why so many of the academic spaces I’ve inhabited so rarely include my demographic peers.  I am therefore particularly active in activities that help close both the academic achievement gap and the exposure gap across racial and socioeconomic lines.

E^3 Mentoring Program
I’m the Director of Boston’s E^3 Mentoring Program, a weekly series of workshops and activities for underserved young women of color interested in STEM. Below are some pictures from the 2015 and 2016 programs. Our program runs in the Spring semester each year, welcoming and encouraging more young women of color to pursue or at least consider STEM careers.

Teaching the youths

Me (in red) teaching a little problem solving tactic

BU Engineering Teaching Lab demo day

The girls learning EKG and digital filtering at BU with the Biomedical Engineering Grad Student Outreach Committee (super fun!)

MIT campus tour

MIT campus tour in 2016

Jasmine giving out Lincolns

I staged this picture of me giving out $5 to the person who could memorize everyone’s names

Koch Institute for Cancer Research 2015

Koch Institute for Cancer Research Visit

E^3 2015 participants

E^3 2015 participants (the silly picture, of course)



If you’re interested in E^3 as a mentor, mentee, or donor, please contact me (jkwasa@bu.edu) or the program (e3mentoringprogram@gmail.com)!

Previous Outreach Activities

Orchestrating Diversity- I was the president and founder of Washington University’s chapter of Orchestrating Diversity (OD) a non-profit classical music education program in St. Louis. OD is an El Sistema USA program that provides free classical music education to underserved K-12 students. Under my leadership of 4 years, WashU’s chapter became a key partner to the non-profit by providing individual music lessons for OD’s Urban Youth Orchestra, contributing to the staff of an elementary school strings program, creating and maintaining a group piano program for middle school students, financing a St. Louis area performance tour, hosting semiannual performances on WashU’s campus, and providing other enrichment activities such as academic tutoring and mentorship to students. Orchestrating Diversity is an amazing program with passionate staff and incredible K-12 students with unlimited potential. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and will always be indebted to the founders (Mark and Max especially) for their wisdom, vision, and persistence.

WashU NSBE Pre-College Initiative– I was the chair of WashU’s National Society of Black Engineers Pre-College Initiative (PCI) Committee for two years. Under my leadership, the committee grew from 4 to 12 NSBE members and we were able to accomplish the following. We designed and taught workshops for K-12 students, generated an online catalog of the workshops to share, hosted NSBE Junior’s national membership (more than 300 students) on a STEM scavenger hunt on campus, hosted 20 St. Louis high school students overnight to expose them to college and STEM fields, and created a satellite program called Engineering My Future (EMF), geared specifically toward encouraging young women of color (Black and Latina) to pursue engineering. My team of four Black woman engineering students created EMF in response to a national decrease in black women pursuing STEM degrees, and we were recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative University program in 2013.