[Editor’s note: Today’s stories take a two-pronged look at rural brain drain. This story examines the issue from the tech community’s perspective. Look at the issue from an educator’s perspective here.]

As an educator with a background in computer science, I have always been passionate about teaching STEM skills to the next generation, particularly students in rural areas who may not have as much exposure. For the past several years, I have been doing just that for high school students in Alabama, most recently in Lawrence County.

In 2013 our county faced the closing of the paper mill, our largest employer and number one corporate citizen – greatly impacting an area where jobs and career options were already very limited. Since then, I’ve witnessed the proliferation of what many now call the “brain drain”–a problem particularly pervasive in rural areas, referring to how students are forced to look for careers outside of their hometowns due to limited career options in their fields of interest.

Related content: Where will STEM education be in 5 years?

With the increase in STEM careers and promise for students interested in pursuing this path, rural communities without access to these jobs feel the impact of rural brain drain particularly hard.

About the Author:

Gina McCarley has been an educator for 20 years and currently teaches computer science and business courses at Sheffield High School in Sheffield, Alabama. Prior to teaching, she worked in the STEM field for 11 years. In 2012, McCarley guided her students to a grand prize win in the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest, which awarded them $100,000 in Samsung technology for their school. As a result of her STEM Education accomplishments, McCarley was invited by Samsung to join the program’s inaugural cohort of Teacher Advisors.