Leadership Award: San Diegan empowers youth through STEM education

Posted at 4:20 PM, May 04, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A San Diegan is using her experience in building a STEM career to teach children how they can do the same.

Before Tristica McCray founded an award-winning nonprofit and earned a Ph.D. in Humanitarianism, she suffered from a challenging childhood.

"We grew up in the projects, the hood, whatever you want to call it," said Dr. McCray.

She also had a tough time fitting in.

"I was so bullied. My dark skin, my ears, my lips," she said. "I decided, 'when I get a little bit older, let’s make something to keep kids involved and understand their purpose better.'"

Thus, Dr. McCray started Nerds Rule Inc which initially focused on bulling prevention. The charity organization developed curriculum addressing bullying, domestic violence, and mental health to support the youth.

The nonprofit then expanded its scope by introducing programs to help children from underserved communities pursuing careers in STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

"Teaching the next generations who looks like me ... is fun and exciting," said Dr. McCray. "It’s technology. It teaches you about self."

Established in San Diego in 2011, Nerds Rule Inc. has since expanded its reach to countries like Ghana and the United Kingdom, reaching thousands of young people around the world every year.

"I’m just really excited about what Nerds Rule Inc. and the World Kindness Movement are doing together," said Dr. McCray. "My programs get to be highlighted with kindness, and also highlighted with all these global leaders."

For her work mentoring young people, Dr. McCray is recognized as the ABC 10News Leadership Award winner for May 2024. If you want to learn more about Nerds Rule Inc., check out her website.

"Sometimes that person in the mirror - that’s your biggest competition. That’s the one you need to speak life into," Dr. McCray said.