Volunteering is more than showing up to a youth center for a few hours. Volunteering, as senior leader Dr. Cedric Sims knows, is an opportunity to celebrate the impact of service; it's taking action to build stronger communities, and empowering others to create a better world.
One of the many ways Cedric takes action is through FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization that engages kids ages 6-18 years in exciting, mentor-based, research and robotics programs that help them become science and technology leaders as well as well-rounded contributors to society. He originally got involved in FIRST when seeking ways to get his two sons involved in different kinds of learning. Cedric now mentors the Boys' Latin School of Maryland Robotics Competition Team #2534, Lumberjack Robotics. Working with this team, he witnesses future leaders embracing engineering, strategy, planning, and analysis, all wrapped into a competitive, hands-on game.
In late April, Cedric will share his experience and perspective gained with a global audience at the 2019 FIRST Championship in Detroit, where he's speaking at the Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Town Hall. Booz Allen has proudly supported FIRST since 2004 with employee volunteers, financial contributions, and in-kind pro bono services. The EDI Town Hall will explore how diverse individuals and communities enhance the value of science, technology, engineering, and math, and how they contribute tremendously to STEM fields.
With rapid advancements in science and technology, there's a lot to get excited about. For Cedric, the future of our youth is what inspires him to stay so actively involved in their growth. He fully trusts that when our youngest are exposed to STEM, it makes STEM instinctive later in life, introducing bright, promising, careers they may not have previously considered. Cedric challenges younger and older generations alike, to look at how STEM can apply to fields outside engineering—including sociology, artistic pursuits, and areas yet to be explored. With a STEM instinctive skillset, and dedicated mentors like Cedric, the opportunity, flexibility, and growth for future solutions is boundless.
How did you first get involved in STEM?
I've always been attracted to the field. Growing up, I loved to browse through computer stores and I enjoyed tinkering with computers. I also recall watching an old Matthew Broderick movie about a teenage boy that played with a supercomputer and I found that to be really fascinating.
Is there an experience you can you point to and say, "that brought me to where I am today"?
I had an outstanding career in the Secret Service. After serving there, it's easy to feel like you've reached your full potential. However, a leader opened my eyes to the myriad of ways I could continue to support critical missions. He encouraged me to apply my talents in non-traditional places, and I grew a deeper appreciation for the role industry plays in service of people and government. That one discussion, from someone who took a moment to mentor me, brought me to where I am today.
As a leader, what are some ways you stay connected to the Booz Allen community?
I connect through various forums on Yammer, such as FIRST, the African American Forum, and the Doctors of Booz Allen Hamilton. I engage because I want my colleagues to know, especially as a leader, that if there's something I can do to assist them, or help with some aspect of success in their journey, I'm available.
Finish this sentence: The future is...
Full of opportunity, and we will deliver it.