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Overcoming obstacles and transforming STEM education in Jamaica
8 MINUTE READ
January 23, 2024

By Zoe Sweet

“All I wanted to do was make an impact that will transform the education system in Jamaica,” says Kavelle Hylton, a 2022 YLAI Fellow and founder of STEM Builders Learning Hub

Since founding the STEM Builders Learning Hub, her impact on education in Jamaica is undeniable and she has become a role model for her students. Kavelle is most passionate about the impact she can have on students and is continuously inspired by their creativity.

The YLAI Network team spoke with Kavelle on her role as a woman in STEM, overcoming hardships, and her experiences during her YLAI Fellowship. 

Challenges leading to growth

Kavelle was an educator for almost 14 years, teaching science in an all-girls school in Jamaica. She began to notice a variety of challenges when it came to STEM education, both in her community and globally. These challenges included the lack of quality education in rural areas, education that was not STEM-focused, and the lack of teachers educated on the integration of STEM in the curriculum. The lack of opportunities for those interested in STEM led Kavelle to open the door for others to get the education she wanted to have on these subjects, which is how the STEM Builders Learning Hub came to be. 

STEM Builders Learning Hub connects hundreds of students to STEM tutors and teachers, hosts free workshops for students to learn and practice new science skills, and offers affordable science kits and courses online for students between the ages of 3 and 17. 

The initial idea was born in 2013 but was not officially registered as a business until 2020 because she faced hardships launching the STEM Builders Learning Hub and finding tutors. However, what started as just an idea turned into a website and friends and co-workers tutoring, and has since grown into a brick-and-mortar business and a leader in the education industry, improving access to quality STEM education all over the Caribbean. 

Overcoming doubt

Not only did Kavelle face the typical hardships of starting a business, such as lack of financial support, she was facing the issue of people doubting the business. When Kavelle shared this idea with others, they were hesitant to believe that such a program would succeed, but she did not let it stop her. She continued to network to get the support that she needed.

Kavelle found even more obstacles within a largely male-dominated field, noticing that she had a difficult time being taken seriously as a woman in STEM. She set out to prove that women can be just as focused as men. 

Kavelle’s goal for the future of the STEM Builders Learning Hub is to create a school where students can come for more specific STEM education and where she can continue to have a positive impact on her students. 

The YLAI Fellowship

Kavelle participated in the YLAI Fellowship in 2022 and believes that experience is why her business is where it is today. Kavelle credits the YLAI experience with helping provide new tools and an opportunity to build on her business strategy to help her succeed. She concentrated on identifying her obstacles and how to overcome them. These strategies and resources will allow her to build her business for years to come. 

During Kavelle’s time in Kansas City with the Museum at Prairiefire, she was provided with new resources on STEM education, was able to observe classes, and learned new and innovative ways to engage with students. She left the YLAI Fellowship with new ideas on growing her business, as well as experiments that she learned from other teachers to bring back to her students. 

 

Thank you for your entrepreneurial journey, Kavelle! Get inspired and learn how you can make a difference in your community with more stories and advice from YLAI fellows.

The YLAI Fellowship is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. government.

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YLAI Network or the U.S. government.