An Award Winning School and An Extraordinary Woman


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By Trevor Thayer, iUrban Teen Student

The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) equips students of color for success in college and life through the power of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. TAF Academy is a 6th through 12th grade STEM-focused public school, co-managed by TAF and the districts in which TAF Academies are located. In 2012, TAF Academy was named an Intel School of Distinction for its excellence in math education. TAF offers its programs in diverse neighborhoods of mostly low-income families so we can reach students disadvantaged by poverty and by their enrollment at underperforming public schools. Learn more about TAF at http://www.techaccess.org The force behind TAF is Trish Millines Dziko who has an extensive background in technology. She founded TAF in October 1996 and it’s grown to become the leader in STEM education in the State of Washington.

Trevor: What inspired you to start TAF

Trish: I spent a lonely 15 years in the technology industry because there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me—and there still aren’t.  So I decided I was going to do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen to the generations behind me.

Trevor: What advice would you give young males of color?

  • You have more opportunity and you are worth more than the current media and society portray you as.
  • Take charge of your own education.  Learn outside of the school day.  Be curious about how things work whether it be finance, science, engineering, arts, and government.  Choose something that isn’t taught to you at school.
  • STEM is like the new Liberal Arts.  It’s not about being better at science, technology, engineering and math.  It’s about having the critical thinking and problem solving skills to create solutions to the most pressing problems in our own communities. It doesn’t matter what field you chose to go into, you need STEM Literacy.
  • There is a time to be down with the brothers and sisters, and a time to be professional.  Being able to code switch, even at this young age, is critical to being successful in any arena.  You need to understand the environments you’re walking into, adapt and be ready to converse and negotiate.
  • Being smart, sharing how you really feel inside, being courteous to young women and a commitment to being the best person you can be is something to be proud of and aspire to – it is not “acting white” or “unmanly”.  If anybody ever tells you that, then take a good look at them and judge for yourself.

Comment by iUrban Teen Founder Deena Pierott:  Trish is truly a leader in the STEM Education arena and someone that I look to as a role model. She walks her talk and continues to find opportunities for the youth at TAF. Bravo Trish, Bravo!  

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