Meet Abraham Ahumada: Science Club for Girls' Board Member
Abraham Ahumada is a member of Science Club for Girls' Board of Directors. He brings extensive expertise in investments, finance, project management, and operations to SCFG. A first-generation college graduate, Abe is passionate about increasing access to STEM education and opportunities for underrepresented communities. At John Hancock Financial, Abe co-founded an Impact Investment startup COIN which helped investors align with their values in areas such as Gender Equality and Diversity. He received a BA in Economics from Harvard College and a Master’s Degree in Management from Harvard Extension.
We recently had the opportunity to ask Abe some questions about himself, his passion for SCFG, and his own life experience as a first-generation college graduate.
Why are you passionate about the mission of Science Club for Girls?
I am very passionate about the mission of Science Club for Girls for many reasons. To be brief, I'm a parent, a Latino, first-generation college graduate, resident of Boston, and I've been a hiring manager. I am a father to 3 boys (12, 9, and 9 years old) who are attending Boston Public Schools. I’ve been involved with the School Site Council and School Parent Committee for several years as a way to support the community of parents and educators at their school. As a parent, I’ve seen first-hand how our schools have to balance the basic needs of many students including safety, shelter, and hunger against improving student outcomes. Unfortunately, STEM programming often comes short. SCFG meets the demand for quality STEM programming and mentorship beyond what our schools can currently provide.
There is a shared urgency across the STEM ecosystem to be more representative of communities who continue to be underrepresented in STEM education and careers. While the STEM industries in our region are growing rapidly and we are home to amazing global leaders in biotech, research, and software, our communities feel that they have not benefited from all the progress and achievements. That is not surprising when our STEM employers are not seen as hiring locally from communities continuing to be underrepresented in STEM. As professional leaders, there is a call-to-action for us to help build a sustainable pipeline of diverse talent into our local STEM industries. Luckily, I was able to join SCFG's Board and do my part.
How long have you been on the Board of Directors?
I joined the Board of Directors 3 years ago in the Spring of 2020 as Treasurer, after sitting on the Finance Committee for a year. I am currently on the Finance, Transformation, and Executive Compensation Committees. Helping to support SCFG through the early pandemic and its amazing response to it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional life. This amazing organization and its staff never failed to be there for the girls in the program by launching SCFGLive! and virtual programming. Now, SCFG continues to grow while keeping the quality of its programs and commitment to each girl intact.
Can you share a bit more about yourself and your background?
I am originally from La Puente in Southern California. I moved out here to go to college at Harvard where I met my wife and I have made Boston my home since. Luckily, I've been able to share my interests with my kids - for now - so my spare time is full of music, baseball, puzzles, and incredible jokes (or so I choose to believe).
I was the first member of my family to go to college. As a First Generation College student, I encountered many of the challenges that SCFG has always recognized and addresses through a community of mentors and a long-term commitment to each student. I was originally a STEM major. Chemistry was my favorite course since a 7th grade summer program, through high school, and until my second semester of college. That's when I hit the STEM wall as many do. I had many resources who helped me know that I didn't have to be a chemist or engineer to be successful, but I didn't have the voice of someone with my background succeeding in STEM who could tell me to stick with it. When I see the statistics of representation in STEM, I can relate to why even though women are now a majority of college students, they are still only a minority of STEM degrees (27%), and an even smaller group of Latina and Black STEM workers (4%).
Not being able to tap into a network of successful STEM professionals feeds the lack of representation in those degrees and careers.
Even after graduating, it is still difficult for many first generation students to find their path into an early career track. We often feel that our first job has to be big enough "to make it all worth it" for ourselves, our families, and our communities. Without necessarily having a network to get advice from, we can be afraid to fail or pivot. Having a mentor who looks like us and, more importantly, has been there with a similar background makes an incredible difference. It heartens me that SCFG continues to recruit those mentors so that all the girls we help in K-8 can count on a a network 10 years from now in college and beyond.
Abe, thank you so much for sharing these important insights and for your dedicated service to Science Club for Girls!