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Fostering STEM Leadership Skills In Young Women Of Color

Nicole Y. Drew is a fervent believer that underrepresented people “deserve a place at the table,” which is why this lawyer, mother, and community leader has worked so hard to ensure that young people, namely young women of color, have the opportunity to study at Montgomery College in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. As chair of the Montgomery County Delta Alumnae Foundation Inc. (MCDAF), Drew has led the foundation’s efforts to partner with the Montgomery College Foundation to create STEM scholarships to support MC students who choose to pursue careers in these subject areas.

Nicole Y. Drew

“We wanted to create an endowed scholarship…and what better place to do it than at Montgomery College,” Drew said. Montgomery County is one of the top 20 most affluent counties in the United States, according to Forbes Magazine and the Census Bureau, and yet, as Drew notes, there are still so many people who are underserved. “I understand the struggle of paying for college,” Drew said. “We want to ensure that we have increased numbers of students in the STEM field who represent an underrepresented population.” The endowment, made possible by MCDAF, will support MC students in the field for generations to come.

In addition to the endowment, MCDAF provides donations for MC students who require emergency assistance funds. “It’s really heartbreaking to hear that sometimes students don’t have food to eat or are living out of their car,” Drew said. “Montgomery College opens their arms and takes all who want to learn…people who have something to give should give, so that these students have the resources they need to get to school.”

We want to ensure that we have increased numbers of students in the STEM field who represent an underrepresented population

Drew always has had a passion for public service, a quality that was instilled in her at an early age by her mother and father. They taught her “if I can help somebody, then my living will not be in vain,” she recalls. “I try to live by that as well.” To this day, both of Drew’s parents — her father, who is recovering from a stroke, and her mother, who is his full-time caregiver — dedicate their free time to serving the hungry and homeless.

In addition to serving as president of MCDAF, Drew is the president of the Montgomery County Commission for Women (MCCW), which strives to advance women’s rights through education and outreach programs. MCCW targets every issue that affects women — from pay inequity to sexual assault — and brings together state legislators, advocates, and community organizers so that real legislative change can be made to improve the lives of local women.

Drew (left) with Catherine and ‘Ike’ Leggett, outgoing county executive

“This year our priorities are the safety and security of women,” said Drew, “including the economic empowerment of women and women in leadership…we want to ensure that there are more women in key, decision-making leadership positions.” With this mission in mind, MCCW also provides STEM scholarships to deserving MC students.

As if all her philanthropic and advocacy work weren’t enough, Drew also is an active member of the Montgomery County Alumnae Chapter of her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., which has raised over $300,000 in scholarships for Montgomery County students, and the Silver Spring chapter of The Links Inc. Both of these organizations focus on transformational change for the African American community, with a special focus on empowering its young women.

“You have to give back,” Drew said. “It’s my duty as a human being and a citizen to give back and what a wonderful institution to give back to.”

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