CHICAGO (CBS) — Rahm Emanuel has been able to build a career as an investment banker, congressman, top White House aide, and mayor of Chicago after majoring in dance in college, and getting a master’s degree in speech and theater; but he said such a success story would not be possible today without some education in technology.

The mayor has announced a partnership between Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Exelon to provide STEM programs (an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) for high schoolers at IIT.

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The five-year, $2.6 million program will provide college credit for at least 300 students, to help defray the ever-increasing cost of college tuition. Students also will receive access to summer internships, mentoring, and admissions guidance counselors.

Emanuel said, in today’s high-tech world, his liberal arts education might not be sufficient for college students. The mayor said studying ballet had its advantages when he was younger, but technology and science are part of what it takes to make it in more recent years.

“You didn’t mention the fact that I can’t turn on my TV without my 16-year-old, which a STEM education would have helped,” Emanuel joked.

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It’s no secret Emanuel – a proponent of STEM programs at the Chicago Public Schools – studied ballet in school. He also took speech, but ended up in politics.

“I did do ballet, and I did dance. I did not pursue what was a possible career in it, but the discipline that came with dancing as a young boy actually prepared me for politics, for the criticism,” he said.

Emanuel said, now, technology is part of every field, so at least some STEM training is vital for every student.
“I am cognizant of the fact you could do what I did without a STEM education in t the past. That’s not true for tomorrow and the future, which is why Chicago’s taking the leadership in the country as a city that’s been adopted code-writing and computer code-writing as a part of education, because it is going to be a necessity of tomorrow’s workforce,” he said. “It has now become technology, engineering, and math has become a foundational piece of education; that for the jobs of tomorrow, regardless of the field, you’re going to need a STEM education.”

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In 2012, the Chicago Public Schools teamed up with the City Colleges of Chicago to open five 6-year high schools that also offered students associate’s degrees in STEM programs. The program was backed by support from IBM, Cicso Systems, Microsoft, Motorola, and Verizon Wireless.