Golden Apple: Cheryl Leung encourages girls to pursue careers in STEM


Roughly 10 percent of all electrical engineers are women. 

Cheryl Leung is one of them, but she left her job. The Albuquerque teacher is now focusing on getting girls interested in science and math careers.

“There weren’t women. When I walked into my first engineering class there were 100 students in the room. Four of them were female,” Leung said. 

Encouraged by a high school teacher, Cheryl Leung studied electrical engineering at Cornell University. 

She went on to work for AT&T, but seven years later decided to make a big change. 

“I just felt that it was important to change the equation for women in STEM, particularly in engineering,” she said. 

She decided to become a teacher. 

“The only way to change that equation is to give girls opportunities to engage in engineering experiences,” Leung said. 

Leung has been teaching at Desert Ridge Middle School for 12 years. 

“Giving them the opportunity to code video games or create motorized toys or build electrical circuits, or code robots,” she said. 

She says girls learn differently. 

“Boys will be out in the garage working with their dads, and very few girls do that. They don’t get their hands dirty, don’t get opportunities to try these things.”

Leung says she’s trying to give girls that opportunity.

“They don’t take the more advanced math courses. They don’t take the more advanced science courses which closes the door to a career in engineering,” she said. 

It’s her commitment to reaching these students that makes her a Golden Apple recipient. 

“Everyday I get to be a part of amazing kids’ lives and I get to see them discover they’re amazing at math,” Leung said. 

If you know an outstanding elementary school teacher, the Golden Apple Foundation is accepting nominations through April 30.

Golden Apple 2018.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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