NAF Future Ready Scholars Staff

Program Team

Haley Hart, Program Director

Haley Hart is a teacher and maker who is looking forward to bringing her love for all things STEM to NAF Future Ready Scholars! Haley is currently an Assistant Director at the Michigan Engineering Zone, where she works on three STEM education programs: FIRST Robotics, the Qualcomm Thinkabit Lab, and NAF Future Ready Scholars. Before joining the MEZ staff, Haley taught science and engineering at Southeastern High School. When she is not working alongside Detroit youth to build robots and invent the future, Haley enjoys running with her Husky and playing soccer.

Akin Oluwadare, Community Coordinator

Akintunde Oluwadare holds a Master of Social Work with a practice method in social policy and evaluation with a practice area in children and youth in families and society from the University of Michigan. Akintunde is interested in working at the intersection ofSocial Work and Education. In his free time, he loves to listen to live music and play soccer.

LaShawn Sims, College & Career Coordinator

Prior to joining the Michigan Engineering Zone, LaShawn Sims worked in the public school system in Detroit where she taught mathematics, provided professional development to teachers and supported schools in improving academic outcomes for students. LaShawn currently coordinates the Thinkabit Lab at the MEZ, a STEM field trip experience for middle school students. LaShawn focuses on helping students explore their own unique talents and aligning them to potential careers. She looks forward to supporting students in this regard through the NAF Future Ready Scholars camp this summer.

Jessica Gardiner, Operations Manager

Jessica Gardiner is an educator and operations manager at the Michigan Engineering Zone. Currently, she is completing her master’s degree in Education here at the University of Michigan and is on the pathway to becoming an elementary school teacher. She is so excited to be a part of this summer’s educational opportunities with the MEZ! Additionally, Jessica enjoys writing poetry and capturing memories as a portrait photographer. One goal she has for herself this summer is to finish designing and launching her new photography website, hopefully using some of her new coding skills from the Michigan Engineering Zone.

Instructors

Adam Alster, Instructor

Mr. Alster is a current physics and robotics teacher at Detroit’s Renaissance High School. Teaching is a passion for Mr. Alster. He enjoys watching someone become inspired to solve challenging problems through STEM. Before teaching at Renaissance, he taught physics, Spanish, and chemistry at Southwestern High School. Mr. Alster is a graduate from Michigan State University (Go Green!) and holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics with a minor in Spanish, as well as a Master of Arts in K-12 Educational Administration. He enjoys reading, being with family and friends, and traveling.

Carrie Russell, Instructor

For the last 8 years, she has been teaching math to students in Detroit and Oak Park. Currently, she teaches math and computer science as well as coaches robotics at Cody High School in Detroit. Before teaching, she worked as an Engineer and Program Manager at Chrysler. She has a passion for working with technology and learning new things, and hopes to share this with all of you. Carrie has 2 teenage children, her son is finishing his junior year in high school, and her daughter just finished her freshman year at U of M.

Kimberly Stevenson, Instructor

Kimberly Stevenson earned her Bachelor of Science Degree from Tuskegee University and her Master of Arts in Teaching Degree from Wayne State University. She has been a certified science educator for over 20 years for the Detroit Public School Community District. She has taught chemistry, biology, environmental science, aviation science and physical science. In addition to teaching, Kimberly was the Go Green Sustainability and Earth Day Coordinator, the Gardening program director and the Bible Club leader. Her teaching career has been very rewarding and she can honestly say there has never been a dull moment.

Elisabeth Wood, Instructor

Elisabeth started her academic career at Emory University in her hometown of Atlanta, focusing on art, art history, and visual history. After college, she spent two years working for Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, before starting graduate school at University of Michigan, first receiving a Master’s in Japanese history and then in education. She currently teaches world history and coaches the high school robotics team at U of D Jesuit. When not in the classroom, Elisabeth spends time backpacking, running, and playing a variety of board and video games.

Teaching Assistants

James Alvarado, Teaching Assistant

James Alvarado is from Chicago and graduated from Lindbolm Math and Science Academy. During his time in high school, he was part of the FIRST Robotics Team, Cyberpatriot, and the Soccer Varsity team. He is currently attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and plans to major in Computer Science. One of his many hobbies is improving and learning new skills, this can be learning a new programming language or developing his own personal projects. James is excited to be part of this amazing program and help prepare students for the future.

Yazmin Hernandez, Teaching Assistant

Yazmin is excited to be a TA for the CAD course this summer! She is a 3rd year Biomedical Engineering (BME) Student from Chicago, where she grew up with a younger sister (who is going blue next fall!) On campus, Yazmin is VP Social of Beta Mu Epsilon, a BME professional fraternity and social chair for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In her free time, Yazmin loves to run and listen to podcasts. She also works in 2 research labs: a BME one studying nanoparticles in drug delivery and a psych one studying bilingual literacy in kids. After graduation, Yazmin hopes to continue her research and earn a PhD in BME.

Edward (Ted) Ivanac, Teaching Assistant

Edward is a FIRST Robotics Competition Alumni. He has built six robots and his favorite feeling is helping students get that experience too. Edward plans to major in Electrical Engineering and hopes to work at NASA at some point in his career. His personal interests include building robots, hula-hooping, and taking care of his puppy, Loki.

Neha Paragi, Teaching Assistant

Neha Paragi is a rising senior at U of M pursuing a dual degree in Industrial & Operations Engineering and Business. Professionally, she is entering the consulting industry after college. On campus Neha is President of MECC Consulting Group and a brother of Alpha Kappa Psi Professional Business Fraternity. Outside of consulting, she loves social impact and entrepreneurship, and has been running a nonprofit cupcake business, Swirl Cupcakes, for the past 4 years. Neha’s personal interests are running, baking, coffee, and mentorship. She is looking forward to this summer!

Scholar Mentors

Gihan Dasanayaka, Scholar Mentor

Gihan Dasanayaka is an incoming second year biomedical engineer at Wayne State University in Detroit. Outside of school, he loves playing basketball, running track, photography, travelling, and much more! Gihan is also first generation Sri Lankan-American and wishes to pursue the first masters degree in his family. His favorite thing to do in Detroit so far is riding scooters down Woodward Ave with his friends and eating at all the restaurants they can find. Gihan looks forward to meeting every scholar and having a fun and productive summer!

Maya Getachew, Scholar Mentor

Maya is from South Orange, New Jersey and is currently a rising Senior at the University of Michigan studying Biomedical Engineering. She serves as the VP Membership for Beta Mu Epsilon, a professional biomedical engineering fraternity on campus. Maya is hoping to work in the medical device industry after she graduates, and get her masters in BME. She has been mentoring or tutoring on and off since being in high school and its something she has enjoyed thoroughly. Maya is so grateful to be a part of the NAF Future Scholars community.

Myla Lyons, Scholar Mentor

Myla Lyons identifies as an African American and uses the pronouns she/her/hers. She is in the University of Michigan Class of 2023 in the college of LSA. Myla is a Michigan Native and first generation college student. Her goal is to attain a Doctor of Medicine degree. She has interests in emergency medicine. Myla’s declared major is Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She plans to attain a double-major in Philosophy [undeclared]. Her unofficial minor is dance and she is in the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association. For more information, please visit: https://mylalyons.wordpress.com

Ren Monroe, Scholar Mentor

Ren is studying Space Engineering at UMich. As she puts it, it means that she wants to work with sending different things into space like satellites! She has been mentoring high school students in Detroit at the MEZ for awhile now and has loved every second of her job. Ren is really into space and anything Marvel related. She loves helping people, and can’t wait to meet all of you!

Izzy Poquiz, Scholar Mentor

Izzy is a rising Junior at UofM’s College of Engineering. She is majoring in Industrial and Operations Engineering with a minor in Product Design. Izzy has a passion for entrepreneurship, art and design, and community building. She also loves learning about different cultures and is currently serving as the Co-President for the Filipino American Student Association at UofM. She’s excited to get to work with all of the scholars this summer and is looking forward to meeting everyone!

Dylan Rushton, Scholar Mentor

Dylan is a recent graduate in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, now pursuing a MS in Biomedical Engineering. He is in the first generation of his family to go to college in the US and is excited to share his experiences. He is particularly interested in developing Medical Devices and Simulations so that training medical students and residents can practice before seeing a patient. Dylan is a big fan of Manchester United and can’t wait for the Premier League to restart. He is also an avid supporter of Michigan Football and goes to every home game.

Raymond Surya, Scholar Mentor

Dylan is a recent graduate in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, now pursuing a MS in Biomedical Engineering. He is in the first generation of his family to go to college in the US and is excited to share his experiences. He is particularly interested in developing Medical Devices and Simulations so that training medical students and residents can practice before seeing a patient. Dylan is a big fan of Manchester United and can’t wait for the Premier League to restart. He is also an avid supporter of Michigan Football and goes to every home game.