High School Scholars

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Back row left to right: Elizabeth Litts, Madeline Brooks, Claire Conley, Melisa Creek, Hannah Leahy, Hannah Hampson, Shelby Gould, Chelsea Dowty Middle Row: Jhoselin Belanos, Cami Christy, Camille Elmenhurst, Lupita Guadalupe Rodriguez, Mckenzie Loney Front row: Felicia Martinez, Lily McKeirnan, Alyssa James, Katelyn Huesby Not shown: Elizabeth Ruthven and Christal Hall

Back row left to right: Elizabeth Litts, Madeline Brooks, Claire Conley, Melisa Creek, Hannah Leahy, Hannah Hampson, Shelby Gould, Chelsea Dowty
Middle Row: Jhoselin Belanos, Cami Christy, Camille Elmenhurst, Lupita Guadalupe Rodriguez, Mckenzie Loney
Front row: Felicia Martinez, Lily McKeirnan, Alyssa James, Katelyn Huesby
Not shown: Elizabeth Ruthven and Christal Hall

Tuesday, April 29, 2014, American Association of University Women, Walla Walla Branch, honored 19 area senior high school students for their work in Science, Technology, and Mathematics at the Walla Walla Regional Airport Conference Room at 7 p.m. Dr. Leena Knight, an assistant professor of Biology at Whitman College spoke about her educational experiences, and she encouraged the scholars to investigate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) courses during college and find mentors who believe in them.

Dr. Leena Knight, an assistant professor of Biology at Whitman College

Dr. Leena Knight, an assistant professor of Biology at Whitman College

Walla Walla High School, Lincoln High School, Touchet, WWVA and De Sales were represented at the event. This year’s scholars are Hannah Leahy, Christal Hall, Alyssa James, Claire Conley, Camille Elmenhurst, Elizabeth Ruthven, Felicia Martinez, Jhoselin Bolanos, Cami Christy, Mckenzie Loney, Chelsea Dowty, Melisa Creek, Lupita Guadalupe Rodriguez, Shelby Gould, Katelyn Huesby, Elizabeth Litts, Hannah Hampson, Lilymarie McKeirnan, and Madeline Brooks. Each scholar received an award certificate and a gift certificate to Earthlight Books.

Dr. Knight talked about the struggle women face in STEM—according to a 2011 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education, only 12% of women who graduate have a BA in STEM and the attrition rate is extremely high for women working in these fields—only 5% of women stay after 2 years in their career field, and only 3% remain in STEM fields after 10 years. Jo Handelsman of Yale University says this can be attributed to a lack of role models, women leaving for family reasons, and gender discrimination.

A crowd of nearly a100 family, friends, teachers and AAUW members honored the recipients

A crowd of nearly a100 family, friends, teachers and AAUW members honored the recipients

Knight also spoke about the pressure she felt as a woman to find a balance between work and family in life. “People have many messages for women—lean in, lean out, be confident, be well-spoken… however the most important things are to be who you are, do what you love and make your own way. Success is how you define it.” Knight also encouraged women to be allies with each other and support each other instead of constantly competing against one another.

AAUW Co-President Cecile Ervin thanked the families and inspirational teachers for supporting the young scholars as they pursued their education. Nearly 100 people attended the event and packed the conference room. Ervin also encouraged them to learn more about AAUW and all of the ways it supports women and scholars. “The Walla Walla Branch of AAUW is a strong organization dedicated to supporting women and their education. The Kitchen Tour and Book Sale help provide sources of revenue for our branch scholarships and activities. Please check our website for more information.”

A festive cake says it all!

A festive cake says it all!

Afterwards, many parents, scholars and grandparents thanked AAUW for sponsoring a great event and they enjoyed visiting with each other at the reception. It was a fun event and we look forward to seeing you there next year.