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UNCF to Host Inaugural South Florida “A Mind Is…” STEM Lecture Series

Former NASA astronaut, retired U.S. Navy Captain Winston E. Scott serving as keynote speaker

/EIN News/ -- FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, Feb. 22, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For most people, Florida is known for warm weather and vacations. But to those who live in Florida, it’s home—the place where they raise their families and aspire to enable their children to get the college education they deserve and the 21st century economy demands. And UNCF (United Negro College Fund) has been there to help them for more than 20 years.

UNCF will welcome 300 students across the educational spectrum from grades K-12 to undergraduates from its member institutions; community influencers; and host Calvin Hughes, anchor, WPLG-TV, as retired Capt. Winston E. Scott, USN, speaks about his experiences in space at the inaugural South Florida “A Mind Is…” Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Lecture Series. This new virtual event will be broadcast via Facebook Live @UNCFSoFLo at 12:00 pm, Feb. 24 to promote the importance of STEM education in minority communities.

Scott, the event’s keynote speaker, is a former NASA astronaut, having served as a mission specialist on two space shuttle flights, STS-72 in 1996 and STS-87 in 1997. He has logged a total of 24 days, 14 hours and 34 minutes in space, including three spacewalks totaling 19 hours and 26 minutes. Scott is one of only  three (3) African American astronauts to have completed a spacewalk in the history of the space program. Scott will be also be joined by Florida Memorial University professor, Alvena Symonette-Johnson, chair of the Department of Aviation and Safety at Florida Memorial University.

"I know the importance of a good education. I’m the product of public education, and my sister is a retired public-school teacher,” said Scott. “STEM is a part of everything we do, and COVID-19 has certainly highlighted its importance. African Americans have a rich history in STEM fields, and I hope to inspire more students to pursue these degrees.” 

“Our STEM lecture series will feature national and international exemplars that will give our students the opportunity to see themselves and the possibilities that exist for them,” said Haki Halisi, area development director, UNCF Ft. Lauderdale. “These two speakers represent a great start for a learning series that literally plans to shoot for the stars, much like Capt. Scott has done during his storied career.”

More than 5,500 Florida students attend historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). UNCF-member institutions Florida Memorial University, Bethune-Cookman University and Edward Waters College are among the Florida HBCUs that contribute almost 8,000 in jobs, $833 million in economic impact and $8.6 billion in lifetime earnings for Florida HBCU graduates, according to a landmark study commissioned by UNCF.

“This is the first of many educational initiatives we are planning supporting area students and local HBCUs,” said Halisi. “We are encouraging the community to secure better futures for us all by investing and serving as a voice for deserving youth.”

This event is made possible because of the commitment of UNCF sponsors, including Florida Lottery and The Office of the Consular General of Canada in Miami – Susan Harper.

Click here or more information about UNCF’s efforts in Florida or email or call 954.527.3315.

Follow the discussion on Twitter using #UNCFMiami; Facebook @UNCFSoFLo.





About UNCF

UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding nearly 20% of African American baccalaureate degrees. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, ‟A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.

Monique LeNoir
United Negro College Fund, Inc. (UNCF)