The Iowa STEM community first met Kwizera Imani as a senior at North High School in Des Moines. He told his story on how STEM changed his life at the 2015 Iowa STEM Summit. In the short time since then, Kwizera became an official member of the STEM Council, leading efforts to bring youth and diversity perspectives to the effort. Now because of this, he is February’s MVP for Iowa STEM.
After fleeing war-torn Burundi, Kwizera and his family left Tanzania for the United States in 2008. He tackled and excelled in English Language Learner classes before diving into coursework with his peers, eventually completing all required high school credits a year ahead of graduation, loading up on AP classes for senior year.
And, his ambitious nature has continued. Kwizera has almost finished year two at Iowa State University in aerospace engineering along with an internship at Rockwell Collins for which he credits his connection to the STEM Council. Along with school and work, he is an active member on the STEM Council, helping drive conversations on diversity and the importance of reaching Iowa’s youth with an inspiring message about STEM.
Kwizera leads the recently-developed Iowa STEM Youth Advisory Board, a working group of the STEM Council made up of students from Iowa middle and high schools and colleges, charged with bringing the fresh voice of learners to STEM Council strategies, as well as serving as conduits to their peers about opportunities in STEM.
“One of the main goals that I hope to achieve with this group is to see a transition from teachers inspiring students to engage in STEM activities to student leaders taking that role of inspiring their peers to join STEM activities,” Kwizera said. “I strongly believe that when we as students take on the responsibility to showcase the significance of STEM careers to our peers, this action will lead to greater participation from our peers.”