Oregon MESA 2021 Annual Report: Through Their Eyes
We are so excited to share our 2021 Annual Report with you! Check out our interactive digital report, where you can watch exclusive student, advisor, community, and staff interviews to watch a MESA year through their eyes, and read our newly released collaborative Equity Statement.
A Special Message from our Executive Director
Dear MESA community,
Transformation. Noun. Defined as a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
Our collective community has undergone radical transformations in the last year, from schools, to healthcare, to social justice movements. While many challenges we faced in the last year were brought on by sudden calamitous events (like a global pandemic and climate disasters), what we have learned from these events has led to transformations that we hope to carry forward in our work for years to come.
MESA was born out of the Civil Rights Movement and based on the principle that expanding access to high quality STEM education for students of color was imperative. The purpose of MESA has always been to support young people in their journey towards becoming leaders ready to tackle the problems of tomorrow. To realize that vision, it means focusing on doing everything we can to support them and adapt to the circumstances of the rapidly changing world of today. For MESA we’ve adjusted to these times through small and large actions like adapting our programs for virtual settings, educating ourselves and our students on the lasting impacts of climate change, and embracing the social justice roots of our organization, to name a few.
The transformation of MESA did not result in a change of our mission or goals but called for imagination and innovation in how we operated as an organization to continue providing quality STEM education. It resulted in a change in how we did things in every possible way. We developed new capacities in procurement and supply chain management in order to get hundreds of supplies to students throughout the region. We found new ways to build community in virtual environments leaning heavily on a video game approach to web conferencing. We re-thought how to create accessibility and adapted to address issues of language and disability access in the virtual environment, technology needs, and conflicts with time as so many of us took on added home responsibilities during this past year. And most importantly, during this challenging year, we tried to make MESA fun for students.
As we look forward to the years ahead we are excited for a return to “normalcy” where relationships can flourish in environments that foster learning and deep personal connection. However, we are also eager to embrace the lessons of the last year. This most notably includes placing the work of advancing equity at the center of everything that we do. You can read more about our commitment to our equity work in our statement in this report. With this and other transformative practices, we plan to continue to use the lessons of this past year to build a stronger and more resilient future. Thank you for being part of our community and we look forward to connecting with you again soon!
Tong Zhang, Ph.D. Executive Director