I am Dr. France Jackson, a Challenger Center Alumni, and it is with sincere gratitude that I write this letter. Thank you for your support. During school field trips and summer camps at the Challenger Learning Center of Richland County School District One in Columbia, South Carolina, I was able to get invaluable hands-on experience with science and engineering projects. The Center was always one of my favorite places to go as a child because it was extremely fun and offered me an outlet to be myself and explore. The Center encouraged exploration and creativity while sparking my interest in becoming a scientist and nurturing my inquisitive nature.
Since my time at the Challenger Learning Center, I have completed three engineering degrees. A Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in Human-Centered Computer making me one of the first African-American women to earn a Ph.D. from the Computer Information Systems and Engineering Department at the University of Florida. I completed four internships at the Intel Corporation and currently I work at Intel as a UX researcher and designer on a Customer Innovation Team. It is my job to use the exploration and creativity skills I learned at the Challenger Learning Center to find, create, and test innovative software experiences on Intel Architecture. My job is extremely rewarding and fun. It is a blessing to have a job you love and to be working in an area you are passionate about.
If it were not for the Challenger Learning Center, I would not be the person I am today. The hands-on activities and STEM exposure at such a young age are some of the top reasons why I became an engineer. I personally attribute much of my success to the impact the Center had on my life. Challenger Learning Center of Richland County School District One is in the middle of a low-income neighborhood where the majority of the residents are under represented minorities. If it were not for your generous support, Challenger Learning Centers or their innovative STEM programs would not exist or thrive. The Centers create exposure for many kids who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to explore STEM in such a natural and fun way. I cannot reiterate enough how important and vital of an impact the Challenger Learning Center has had on me!
Again, thank you for your generous donations. Your gift is being used to train, engage, and inspire future leaders of tomorrow. When people like you give of your time, talent, and resources to invest in STEM there is nothing we can’t achieve as a nation. America’s future looks bright because of you.
With a grateful heart,
France L. Jackson, Ph.D.