PTC is about to finish our fourth year in a special partnership with New Jersey’s Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering – part of our corporate Community Outreach program. This is a school serving a student population with limited means, but exceptional gifts.
We recently provided a financial contribution to Students 2 Science, affording Passaic Academy even more resources to support its students (many of whom we’d love to see become PTC employees someday). And we are not stopping here.
I would like to share how this instance of PTC community outreach began. In November 2016, I took part in a BioNJ HR panel at Kean University which included educators from state agencies and several New Jersey school districts. After the session, an Assistant Principal from Passaic High School asked me to join their Biotech Advisory Committee. (The school requires an industry partner on this committee to qualify for the state and federal grants that fund new facilities and programs for students.)
I was terribly busy with other commitments at the time, so I politely thanked her and delicately said ‘no.’ She asked again. And again. Each time I gave the same answer. Then, one day, she asked me to come to just one meeting. Well, I certainly could find the time for just one meeting.
Meeting Extraordinary Kids
In February 2017, I found myself in a conference room at a local hospital for this just one meeting. And then it happened: I met three amazing students before the meeting. I was told they were top students and could do anything – if they believed.
These kids had extraordinary potential! I asked one of the students what she hoped to do someday. She answered with a modest career goal – one that wouldn’t necessarily require a college degree, which I acknowledged was a great profession. “But how about considering becoming a doctor, a pharmacist, a chemist, or a biologist?” I asked her. If only she could see in herself the gifts others could see so clearly.
In the first meeting, the students who were focusing on a biotech academic track, stated that they had never been to a biotech company and had never met someone from a biotech prior to meeting me. Driving back to PTC, I was embarrassed for not jumping sooner at the opportunity to support these students when first asked. (Too busy? Really, Martin.)
Turning Ideas into Action
I joined the Biotech Advisory committee and spoke with our PTC leaders about providing outreach focused specifically on developing future scientists and other professionals at underserved public schools. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to invite the students, teachers, and administrators to PTC?
A few months later, we welcomed, for the first time, our guests from Passaic. They have been back to PTC – to our labs and to speak with our team. They have moved us, and we expanded our outreach to include Shabazz High School in Newark, NJ.
Several years after that first meeting, a middle school in Passaic was converted into a middle / high school and renamed the Passaic Academy for Science and Engineering. The dream of building new facilities and new programs had come true for these amazing students in Passaic!
The Principal at Passaic Academy Johanna Ross tells me things are going well for the students, especially when it comes to the work Students 2 Science is doing in the school. “We can’t thank PTC enough for their generosity in sponsoring this partnership for our school community,” she wrote me in November.
I am truly proud that PTC lent a small hand in turning this vision into a reality. At PTC, we do not just talk about opportunities for social justice – we act.