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Athena Racing helps girls race to STEM finish line

Athena Racing's Founder Loxley Browne won't rest until girls are walking on Mars.

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. — More than two million high paying jobs that require a STEM Education go unfilled in the United States every year. In this Zevely Zone, I went to Spring Valley to meet the right women for the jobs. 

Athena Racing is a non-profit organization that helps girls prepare for career paths related to automobiles, engineering, robotics, or design. That's where we met a 14-year-old girl learning how to drive and much more. Sonia Khanvilkar is a 10th grader at Canyon Crest Academy. We watched her drive a gutted sport car that was transformed into a driving simulator. "It's my first time really driving, it's preparing me for the real world," said Sonia as she crashed her way down an Italian road on the screen in front of her.

Credit: Athena Racing

I was hoping the program didn't destroy the beautiful convertible BMW in front of me. "No, we didn't destroy her, we made her so much better," said Loxley Browne who is the founder of Athena Racing. Her non-profit organization prepares girls ages 11 to 18 for careers in engineering, designing, fabrication, mechanics, business, marketing and public relations. 

"So, you would expect to see an engine in here, but we have taken out the engine and the transmission," said Loxley as she showed me how her students transformed the car into a simulator. Sonia is just one of 800 girls; Loxley has helped to take on an industry dominated by men. "She is the best. I feel like she is my backbone, like anything I tell her she will support me with it," said Sonia.

Credit: Athena Racing

We first profiled Athena Racing in 2019, but the program had to shift gears during the pandemic to offer online Fab Camps. During their last camp the girls cobbled together a drifting trike out of a BMX bike, a tractor seat and lawn mower engine. 

Credit: Athena Racing

The organization's CEO says she won't quit until she sees girls on Mars. "These little girls are incredible. I am so proud of them, and they work so hard and they just need someone behind them to support them, oh my now I am turning up," said Loxley. "I watch them grow and become more confident and it makes my heart burst."

RELATED: All girl racing team in San Marcos is putting the boys on notice

"Okay girls who is going to be a CEO at this table, come on show us that muscle," said Loxley in the board room. Loxley named her non-profit after Greek goddess on purpose because Athena is the Greek goddess for wisdom strategy and courage. 

Credit: Athena Racing

All qualities Sonia will use against the boys as she speeds a down the highway of success. "I can do anything you can do but better. I am confident about that," said Sonia.

RELATED: Valley Center woman was born to serve and help others

Athena Racing is looking for sponsors, corporate partners and more students to grow their program. If you're interested or would like to learn more information, click here.

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